arts, movies, music, pop culture · faith

building in love

You’re such a martyr.

Martyrs get a bad rap. The word is often used as an insult to a person who just tries too hard or, more likely, lets everyone know just how hard he tries. All. The. Time.

No greater love than this: that I lay down my life.

Love and sacrifice go together like peanut butter and jelly. Unless your 5 year old is allergic to peanuts and you have to use some lesser substitute. She knows she’s allergic and says she doesn’t even want anything like peanuts.

Sometimes we’re allergic to love. Real love. Love isn’t the cute fuzzies. We know this. We know love has grit. We know tough love. We know the love that tells us we’re going the wrong way, the love that pulls us, violently if need be, out of harm’s way.

But we react to it. We don’t like doing it and we don’t like receiving it. It’s the sacrifice part. Love is inconvenient. It’s messy. It’s a long, winding road. And there’s a shorter, easier road to fun and frivolity which we would much rather take.

I keep telling my girls that love is giving AND receiving. It’s taking the time and effort to think about what others like and want and need. It’s about putting ourselves aside for a little bit – not that self-care isn’t important because it is, and learning your limits and abilities is a good thing – and relying on the strength and joy that Jesus gives us to help others feel that same love and grace.

But without being self-righteous about it. “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” We give and give without announcing it. Without expecting returns on investment. Without holding people to some impossible standard.

But still counting the cost. It is hard to follow Jesus. You might even say impossible. We just can’t. We will never love enough. We will never care enough. We will never trust enough. We will never change enough. I sit in that. This season especially, I am reminded at just how much I cannot do. I want to do all the things. I want to buy all the presents. I want to give to all the charities. I want to save the world.

I cannot. It’s not in my skill set. What is in my skill set is what God has given me and that is Jesus and that is the Spirit – His very own Son, His very own Self – that I may know Him more and that I may grow in grace and dependence on him alone.

My heart is full this year. My girls are at an age where they love all the things. They are filled with excitement. They radiate joy and cheer and it’s contagious. It’s impossible to not contract their giddiness and childlike awe. I thank God for them, for the gift they are and for the constant example of how to love in the midst of tears and pain. In the middle of the dark nights. In the struggle to understand what’s happening around them. In the quiet morning and the loud chaotic morning. In the light of the Christmas tree at dusk. In the light of the grace and peace and mercy and blessing God showers on us even when we don’t see it. Especially when we don’t.

Jesus, remind us always of your love. That “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and forever Love.” (from The Jesus Storybook Bible)

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