Wednesday, January 25, 2017

for when you are learning about love part 1: getting started

God's love for me determines how much love I can hold for another person.  His love is what gives me love and therefore overflows me with love to give away. 

This all seems quite simple and obvious until there is a difficult person in your life to love.  I don't mean on days when your husband forgets to make the bed or your kids disobey all day and whine as if they'll never get another chance to do so or some crazy person takes forever in the grocery store line in front of you.  Those are all moments we are given to show great love but they are short lived and don't cost us too much in the way of heart sacrifice. 

I am talking about people who have hurt you or your family, people who you hear about who have done the unthinkable, people who when you think about them you can feel your blood pressure rise, you can feel your heart drop and you can feel the desire to throw all your beliefs out the window just to hang on to the hard feelings or feel yourself retreat so you can pretend that they're not really there.
So many people have others like that where the ache hurts but the cost of loving feels like it could hurt more.  I have that person.  I wish I didn't.  I wish I could say that I love like Christ loves me.  I want to love like He loved me first but it's hard.  On some days it feels impossible.  God is taking me on a journey, an extension of the one he started over a year ago, to help me learn about gospel love.  How to love like Christ in all circumstances and to all people.  It's easy to love the easy ones but we most often aren't called to the easy things.

A little over two years have gone by since writing those words above and still the road to learn to love well, no matter how extensively trodden, is still winding, disappearing into the horizon, the endpoint infinite miles away.  This was to be my own private journey, my lessons in how to somehow, in some way, love like Jesus when most of the time all my will wanted to do was fight, ignore, or defend.  Due to changes in different aspects of life this was pushed onto a back burner because necessity for it at the time, or so I thought, was not as great. 

This is the part where I admit that I just did not want to do it anymore, but was lovingly not let off the hook by God who was telling me to 'big fat do it anyway.' Sigh--slight eyeroll--Fine.  My maturity knows no bounds.

Then after reading some words from my sweet friend Kiley there was that reminder that I'm not alone in my struggle, and not alone in my goal.  

"God calls us to love. Not say we love, but to actually love. This is a hard one for me. I mean, it’s easy to love gypsy children in Romania when I go there each summer. It’s easy to love the innocent 6 year olds that walk into the door of my classroom each day, and the goddaughters whose faces smile when I drive up in their driveway. It’s easy to love the friends that I surround myself with, easy to love the family that loves me back.
But man, it’s hard to love the one who screams words that are everything I’m against. It’s hard to love those who make choices that I believe are just wrong. It is really hard when someone questions my Christianity because of how I mark my ballot. It is especially hard to love when I am so obviously not loved in return...I want to love as Christ so perfectly loves me….we all know good and well that I don’t deserve it. I want people to look at me and know that I love well….no matter what they believe, no matter the color of their skin, no matter how they voted or why, no matter who they love, no matter if they love me back."

Of course my human self being what it is, it was not until just recently--last night as I was falling asleep--that it was placed in my head in no uncertain terms that it was time to broach the subject again.  Not just on my own time, but during these times with you all, so that together we can go deeper into the art of love.

Two separate conversations happened recently on a topic I swore, and still swear, I will never write about. Talking about 'it' is also something I vow to do as little as possible, but the situations arose and, for whatever reason, the heart led words to come out and once they are out there it is impossible to bring them back.  
Through the extensive conversations on the topic that will not be named, I thought of trying to come up with some witty comments or fantastic point dripping with well-read knowledge full of facts and the droppings of qualified names in hopes to gain a bit of respect and to not show a lack of intelligence or a seemingly naive outlook.  Both of those options escaped my abilities because the heart took over and in the end what came out was Jesus.  The Gospel.  His Word.  Letting it apply to all.

Jesus Juke jokes aside, after some frustration, a slight bit of temper flaring, and a little soul searching I've come to the conclusion that it is an honor to be that person.  As Christians, redeemed, restored, and renewed, we have no place to stand except on His righteousness.  Thankfully, there will be times others will need to bring my stray thoughts and extensive subject knowledge back to this core center as well.  It's why we have many parts but are of one body.  Living in Community leading and following and walking alongside.

The older we get the more we realize we know so much, yet know so little.  As eyes are opened to a bigger world with equally as big successes and failures, the need of guidance in my life just grows that much bigger.  Loving.  Learning to love, better or at all, is one of the many that will be broached in the rest of our life here on earth.  Why not let it be now.  

So a warning, one that should not surprise you, but needs to be placed front and center.  I will be bringing Jesus into all of this.  Every post.  Every lesson.  Every struggle.  Every time I feel unloved. Every time I feel unloving.  Every moment when it does not seem worth it anymore.  Every moment when He reaches deep into my heart and reminds me of how worth it it truly is.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

This my friends is not a subject I am an expert on, far from it.  We each have immeasurable experience with having to love, being asked to share and show love to another, but we each have the same immeasurable number of experiences when we failed miserably at times and not completely miserably at others.

Wisdom does not come when life works out perfectly, it comes when you fail but then get up and try again.

Let's try again.  This time not on our own strength but with the strength given to us, living in us by the Spirit, sent from the Son.  It will be hard but I can not think of more things that are worth as much as this. 

Loving others and showing others how we are loved.

In the weeks ahead, will you stick with me?  Walk with me?  Learn with me?  Fail with me and then get up and try again?

I'm praying for you and the future lessons we will approach, pray for me.

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