She hurt me. To this day, sometimes when I think about her, fear folds itself around my chest.

Though sometimes I have to choose to forgive her again, I believe God has given me grace to forgive her. But I still feel afraid.

Then I had a conversation the other night about a totally separate circumstance — someone else who’d been hurt. I was frustrated; this person went through the motions of loving the person who’d hurt them, but they seemed to lack the ability to really love radically.

And the person who’d hurt them needed that kind of love. It would be life-changing, I felt — even change destructive patterns from past generations to start a new kind of legacy. Being loved can do that! They’d never had someone love them like Jesus: loving them even when they deserved to be an enemy. I saw the victim as being poised to change someone’s life.

What if they didn’t?

But two days later, when the fear hit again, my hypocrisy hit me.

I, too, could be hovering around someone really seeing Christ, not simply being nice or friendly or acting loving to a person who hurt me, but really accepting them — in my heart — like Jesus accepted me. But my hurt and fear kept me from receiving them. It was a whole lot easier and certainly less painful; being authentic with the person who hurt me felt a little like one of those “naked in the mall” dreams.

I had to wonder: How often do my little attempts to protect myself … or save face … or be more comfortable … result in those kind of lost opportunities?

I’m praying that 2010 will find me full of faith to love like God asks me to — rather than a fear of people and what they can do to me. Who knows what that will mean, even beyond this year?