“I lost my cellphone” that’s how the conversation started with Ben as he sat down at my bar. I’ve pulled a double shot of espresso for this guy almost every weekday for the last three years. We’ve developed a pretty good relationship.
So I had to ask, “What happened to your cellphone?” “I don’t know,” Ben replied. As he unpacked the story, he began to tell me how he had been out the night before drinking with his buddies, and he got so drunk that he lost his cellphone. Earlier the previous day, he and a host of his other friends and acquaintances had laid to rest a friend that had been killed in a tragic accident, which according to Ben had been alcohol related. So my friend and his chums went to the bar after the funeral to drink away their sorrows. Ben went on to tell me that he began giving the guys a hard time for grieving so heavily for the loss of their buddy as they drank another, and another, and yet another. He was feeling pretty hypocritical, because he was just as plastered as his friends were, and yet he felt the need to be the self righteous one in the group. “You all are a bunch of hypocrites,” he told them. “How in the world can I apologize to all those guys for the way I acted?” He asked.
Suddenly, indignation came up inside of me, and before I realized that I was actually saying what I was feeling, I asked him, “How are you going to apologize to your seven year old son, when you are the one laying in the casket, because you couldn’t use some self control in front of a bottle of beer?”
He looked at me like I had thrown a cup of cold water in his hung over face. “You’re exactly, right.” He conceded. “I need to get a grip.”
This guy is one of my most favorite folks to see on a daily basis. We laugh and cut up. We talk about serious things. He often tells me how God has saved his life while in a coma for six months as the result of a previous car accident, or how he’s been miraculously kept alive in spite of prostate cancer. He’s been shot at, punched, and who knows how many times he’s stood on death’s doorstep. Yet, he continues to push his limits. As if he’s some lucky cat, with nine lives.
Ben, didn’t get mad at me for getting a bit blunt with him. He tells me that he is thankful that someone cares enough to tell him the truth.
Tough love is never easy to give to someone. In some cases it may never be received. However, these reasons are never good enough reasons to withhold tough love.
Love the person in your life who seems the hardest to love, with an unconditional, and yes, when necessary, tough love. Even if they make you mad. Love them even then.