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Posts Tagged ‘love’

mosaic

Love is one of those words that requires a lot, if not everything from the one giving it. Love is hoped for, depended on, risked and longed for. Love is so strong. There are so many songs and movies that try and capture the essence of love’s power. There will never be enough to say about love. There will never be enough time to capture its essence either.

Love is also conscious. Love requires everything we’ve got.

A couple of years ago, my counselor taught me a principle that has stuck with me. We were talking about commandments in the bible. He told me that we are given commandments because there are things that do not come natural to us. For example, we are not given the commandment to breathe because our body just does that naturally. We do not have to constantly tell our eyes to blink. They just do.

Love is a commandment given by God. Love is something that does not come natural to us.

I wish it did, but it doesn’t. This truth brings a whole new light to the famous verses in Corinthians about love. Love has a list because it’s not natural to do.

Love is a choice.

I am sadly realizing how many people do not choose love any more. There is a lie in our culture that says you don’t have to stay in the hard. You can love whenever and however it suits your needs. Our culture is moving away from the heart of the one who created love. We are moving away from the one who created us to know and share in love. Sadly, our world is running on the fiction of love.

We have reduced love to a fairytale feeling, and the pursuit of happy, not faithful.

The reality of love is that it’s hard work. It does take conscious effort. There are times where love seems to be overflowing and very easy, but for the most part it takes effort. This is where the commandment comes in. God knew that the hard is where our human side comes into play, and that we would need a commandment to keep at it.

Love is no matter what.

Love is all the time and no matter what. Love is committed and faithful no matter what. Love is selfless and sacrificial. Those two words alone require everything I’ve got. Lord knows I am not good at choosing either one.

Love is no matter what because God has proven to love me that way. God has shown me that love is all the time, committed, and faithful. He laid down his life to show me that love is selfless and sacrificial. I can’t believe that love like this applies to me.

What are the challenges of this commandment for you?

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The one thing we seemed to master as children is the concept and value of possessing. From kindergarten on we have had to learn the lesson of “sharing” with others. This world, especially this culture, teaches us to think individualistically. We can take on the attitude of pride and entitlement with our valued “things.”

We hold onto things, and sometimes guard them with our lives. Out of survival, we can hoard our possessions wondering if we will need them.

Our culture teaches us to give out of the abundance of what we have. Generousity is measured not by the whole pie, but the slice that is given. We give because we “have it.” Most often what we term as “giving” is associated with money.

What about giving out of what you don’t have?

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

The widow in this story gave all she had without expecting anything in return. She submitted all she had with a profound sense of freedom from possession. This woman shows us a great example of how she lived her life not saying “mine”, but “yours.

Maybe she did worry about provision. Maybe it took her a long time to release those coins. But she did. This brave woman, already labeled “poor” gave all of what she did not have. She was not safe. She had no security net to fall back on. She gave out of risk and poverty. It means everything.

Do you give in a way that stretches you?

Giving is not just financially related. Giving out of what we don’t have can look like our time, emotion, weakness, struggles, and energy. Giving can look like being present when you are too tired. Giving can look like just believing when your frustrations of waiting are high.

Jesus introduced a principle of love in the gospels. He says, If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectorslove their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?”

I think the same principle applies with giving. If we give what we have, what risk is that for us? Anyone can give out of their abundance. Be different. Give what is stretching. Give what you don’t have, and even what you may not want to.

Giving out of what we don’t have enables faith. Jesus attributed faith to the widow who gave her last two coins.

For you, what does it mean to give what you don’t have?

 

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Love is a word that seems to be so easily dismissed in my brain. Love is one of those convoluted words that seem to carry so many different levels of meaning. I hear love being tossed out all the time. We use it to describe things we like. We use love at the end of conversations and family gatherings. We also use love as a description word that translates into deep meaning.

Love runs deep in me

I would describe myself as someone who loves deeply. I value the word love very much. I do not toss that word out flippantly. I want to be a person who loves deeply. I want to show love to others in a way that they never knew was possible. Honestly, I love loving.

However, there resides a dark place in me that can’t seem to grasp reciprocated love. I dismiss love so quickly that it just ricochets off my guarded heart. As I find great joy in loving others, I see myself as unlovable. Some reasons because that has been the message told to me, and some my own self perception from life. When someone tells me that they love me the words seem to echo without a place to land inside of me.

Dismissing love serves two purposes in my life.

The first comes from the core of knowing pain and wounds that run deep in me. I have experienced grief from loss of relationships I valued greatly. In my efforts to guard against pain, feeling loved has little room to take root. To allow love to take root in me would mean risking pain. Some where along this road of grief I traded in my heart, desperate to know love, for safety.

The second purpose is an extension of the first. Experiencing deep loss, and relational wounds, has rocked my self-perception. In the midst of that pain, I believe in the lie that says, “I am not enough” and “I am not worth loving.” My skewed self-perception and relational wounds have told me that I only worth conditional love at best. Those lies have dictated many courses in my journey.

In the past couple of years, I have learned that the only way to dispel a lie is with truth. Truth has a louder voice than the lie. Truth is sustaining where as lies require me to anchor them. There is only one who has claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life.

Truth tells me that I am loved. Truth states that we know love “because he first loved us.” Love laid down his whole life so that the vail of my own self-perception would be torn in two.

I am still in a place of wrestling through doubt that the word love applies to me. I still experience pain where that message seems true.

I have known glimpses of love. I say glimpses because I hold loosely to those moments. Fear still has its grip on me. Everyday I pray for perfect love to drive out all my fear. One day I will know in my heart, and not just my head, that I am worth love. Until then, “he is working on me.

How do you respond to love?

What risks come with love for you?

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We all grew up memorizing the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names/words will never hurt me.

This is just a bunch of bull. Why do we teach people this!? The truth is that I would rather be hit with sticks and stones because it heals faster, and it doesn’t leave as painful of a mark on me.

Words mean everything to our hearts and life. The sound of those words can make or break someone forever. Words and names pierce the deepest parts of us, and in such a short period of time. I am sure we can all think of words we heard in the last 24 hours that either encouraged us or left a mark of hurt.

Tone of voice means everything as well. Growing up I knew when my mom was mad. We didn’t even have to be on the same floor of the house and the message was clear!

We listen to words and voices. Those words tend to determine how we view ourselves. They dictate the lenses through which we base our identity on.

My heart hurts when I see the lifelong lies people live out. I hate hearing about the hurts that people have experienced that have now developed into daily patterns of insecurity. It breaks me. I am sad over my own lenses that determine the way I hear.

I am not good at receiving. I gloss over compliments and sometimes encouragement. My immediate thought is that those words are not meant for me. I have lies that were solidified in my ears a long time ago. It’s hard to hear “you’re beautiful” because “you’re ugly” has been spoken over me for too long. I still wonder what beautiful feels like.

Our culture speaks the words that nothing is enough. We have an un-meetable bar for being lovable, worthy, and valuable. All of those seem to come with competition and pain. That makes me sad. I don’t know one person who is confident in their identity.

Our identity can be challenged but never changed.

The misconception about identity is that it changes. The truth about identity is that it is a fact; a fact that is unchanging regardless of any conditions.

God created us with the identity that we are valuable, lovable, worthy, and His beloved. That never changes. This is the truth that we need to measure all words up against. He says we are worth saving and worth loving – worth laying down His life for. That is fierce love and value. Nothing changes that truth.

Our lives face many battles and challenges to this truth, but truth can’t cease to be truth. You are spoken over and spoken for. That never changes.

I get that this is a lifelong challenge. Changing a long time pattern of thinking and believing takes time. My hope is that your lenses start to change and the voices you begin to hear at that of truth.

You are worth it!

What are lies you struggle with in your life? 

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eye heart

I remember in high school when my crush talked to me for the first time in the hallway. I remember what it felt like to be stunned and looking around to see if he was really talking to me. AND he was an upper class man…that’s right!

I remember being stunned that he was sweet and a really a nice guy. Who knew he could hold a conversation and be normal. I couldn’t believe he was asking me about basketball. He knew I played basketball!?

My crush had always been this untouchable person that I would catch glimpses of between classes and at lunch. Now he was not only the guy I saw, but the one who also saw me.

Feeling seen always runs deep. It matters a lot, and is honey to the soul.

My heart is always tender towards the Samaritan woman that Jesus talks to by the well. This woman had gone her whole life only knowing the sounds of scoffing and disdain.  She was not a respected woman. She had no friends in town, and was known for being “loose” with the men. Due to her less than appealing reputation, this Samaritan woman chose the hottest times of day when no one was around to get her chores done.

One day and one conversation with Jesus changed her life.

Jesus was a Jew who was not socially permitted to talk to a Samaritan woman. That didn’t matter to him. Jesus only saw a person to love.

While this woman was drawing water from the well, Jesus stopped and talked to her. He talked to her about life, relationships, and faith. He passed no judgments, but extends an invitation of new life and love. Jesus made her feel seen.

I don’t think it’s ironic that when the woman went back into town to tell people about Jesus that she chose these words, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did.” In my head I always continue the statement with, “and still loves me.”

For the first time this lost and invisible woman felt valued and known – she felt seen and accepted. Someone saw her. Someone accepted her sin and mess of a life and loved her. This changed everything.

Every one of us is a mess. Everyone is in need of value and love. Making someone feel seen changes everything. It did for me and the Samaritan woman. It’s healing.

In what ways have you experienced feeling seen?

How can you make someone feel seen?

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One of my gifts and curses in life is being able to talk my way out of things. I was the student who charmed her way through skipping class, handing in homework late, or getting a teacher off track. Let’s be honest, school got in the way of my social life.

I was also the daughter who negotiated curfews and side stepped punishments. My mom is northern New Jersey to the core. She doesn’t mess around when it comes to bringing the mom voice. I was known for pushing the limits and amending her instructions. Every time I knowingly crossed the parental guidelines I knew the voice was coming, but so were my speeches.

Driving home late past curfew or going to someplace I wasn’t supposed to, I would rehearse a readied speeches. She called it disrespect, I called it creative rebuttals.

This is one way I identify with the Prodigal son. The life of responsibility and tending to dad’s farm was getting in the way of his social life. The prodigal packed his bags, and with dad’s inheritance check in hand, he set out in search of meaning. It wasn’t too long before the inheritance dried up and he found himself alone.

When the voices of false advertising grow silent the reality of our spirit of poverty is made known.

When the Prodigal found himself alone with nothing, scripture states that, “he began to be in need.” Sobering truth and awareness was the process for this Prodigal. Filled with shame and humility, he decided to go home.

Knowing the Prodigal had lost so much of himself, his family, and his life, as he headed home he began to rehearse a speech; Father, I have sinned against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired hands.”

The father sees his son like a mirage walking down the road, and takes off. He throws his arms around the Prodigal and lavishes him with love, a robe, and celebration of renewed son ship. The Prodigal didn’t even get to finish his speech.

I look at this speech and see how much I rehearse the same one for God. I struggle to know love that is unconditional. I feel like I battle knowing love that doesn’t hold try-outs.

I still have speeches. If I’m being most honest, I still think the father’s love depends on my earned efforts. I will even go so far as to punish myself even when grace and love are extended.

I wish I could see a follow-up to the Prodigal story. I wonder if the Prodigal still rehearsed persuasive speeches for the father’s love after that day. I wonder if he still tried to earn love even though his father covered him with grace and forgiveness. Broken relationships take rebuilding, but that does not affect love, or at least it shouldn’t.

I would love to know your thoughts and responses to the Prodigal story.

Do you write speeches for God?

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Love is the most powerful word there is. Words, actions, song lyrics, poems, and the like try and capture its deep meaning and expression. I am convinced I will spend my lifetime trying to grasp its depth.

Love is no light expression. It always runs deep and means something.

I am grateful for the different glimpses of love I have experienced worldwide. Every culture has their own unique way of holding loves value. I’d like to think that all of my experiences have made a mixing bowl of loves expression in me.

I know I don’t always handle love well. Sin has corrupted love’s intentions and meanings. Love is meant to be known without conditions. Yet, we place criteria and walls around her. In some ways, love even has a standard.

Our culture has moved so far into the direction of conditional love that it makes my heart grieve. I tear up when I see an elderly couple walking hand-in-hand down the road. This picture always gives me a glimpse of unconditional and lasting love.

Love is a choice not a feeling.

Love takes commitment and faithfulness. Love takes trust and the grounding of safety that no matter what, the commitment of love and honor are fought for.

Honestly, our culture makes me sad. I hate that statisitically half of all marriages will end in divorce. Not only is that not ok, but the reason for some divorces is that one person just stopped fighting for love.

I hate that we have moved into being a culture where love is relative and anything goes. We cheer on people’s conditional love choices in the name of “happiness.”

We are becoming a society that thinks we are exempt from having to work through the hard of pain. We have lost the value of commitment. When we start saying, “we don’t have to…..’ the unconditional form of love is lost.

Love requires work. It is through choosing the hard of that work where love grows deeper. Love fought for on a deep level is called intimacy. I hate that we are losing sight of love.

I have experienced conditional love. I know I have also dished it out. I hate that I have. I could call my conditions defenses for fears and doubt, but that is no excuse. Love is meant to be known unconditionally.

I will admit to not always fighting for love and choosing to work through the hard and pain. I honestly fear love as much as I crave loving deeply.  I also don’t want to communicate that my love comes with stipulations. Makes me cringe.

Paul writes in Ephesians, “that you, being rooted and established in love…” I wrestle with these words. My first response to that verse is how many people truly know what this is like?  People who know and trust they are loved is becoming a rarity.

Why is that!?

I wrestle deeply with the truth that He loves me unconditionally and faithfullyMost days I can’t wrap my heart around that truth. I wish I could confidently know that I am rooted and established in love.

I want to get back to the place where unconditional love still walks hand-in-hand down the road. I want 50 years of committed marriage to not be a surprise to us. I want to fight for the norm of relationships to be know for their established love.

Love has no conditions. It is meant to have roots. 

How have you experienced unconditional love?

How have you experienced conditional love? 

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