Don’t give up on people.

That’s really all I want to say to you today. I don’t want to drag this post out too long; we all have too many things to do and too few hours of sleep as it is. But I think that this is important, and so I’ll say it again: don’t give up on people. Don’t throw up your hands and walk away when the relationship gets difficult. Don’t put polite, soundproof barriers up when you sense that there may be a mess. Things may be ugly, and they may be painful, but we can’t just give up.

The Denial of St. Peter by Caravaggio

God didn’t give up on us. Think about Peter, who spent years with Jesus and never quite got it, who tried so hard to please God and yet continually put his foot in his mouth; naïve, impetuous Peter, who was brave enough to draw a sword to protect Jesus on the Mount of Olives when he thought it would help but who wasn’t brave enough to admit to being Jesus’ friend when Jesus had already been captured and all hope was gone. That last betrayal wasn’t the end of the story. Peter, who had shown himself to be untrustworthy, was entrusted with the whole church. God never gives up.

Or think about Moses. He was another coward, a old man who had run away from the consequences of his hotheaded youth to spend the rest of his life safely in the desert where he wouldn’t have to face the fact that his whole family—his whole people—were slaves. The last thing he wanted (and he told God this quite clearly) was to go back again and try to convince people who didn’t want to listen to do things against their own best interests. And God could have left then. He could have taken Moses at his word and gone to find some other person more willing to trust. But he didn’t, because he doesn’t give up.

Or think about yourself. Think about all the times you’ve made a mistake, or shirked a duty, or simply ignored God. Think about all the times that you’ve given in to temptation and asked for forgiveness and then given in to temptation again. God has never given up on you. He has never listened to your hundredth or thousandth prayer and decided that you are simply too much bother, that you should just be written off as a loss. He has never looked at you and decided that you’re unfixable. God loves you, and so he will not give up.

And so we should not give up, either. We are told to love each other because God loves us. Forgive as God forgave; reach out as God reached out; love as God loved. And remember that even as you steel yourself to not give up on someone, someone else is steeling herself not to give up on you. No one is perfect, but God loves despite our imperfections, so let us love as well.

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