I will be honest, I struggle with love. The entire idea frustrates me. The kind of love I understand to be considered real love is a call to constantly lay aside my own wants and desires for those of others. I grew up being the baby of the family; I’m quite used to other’s laying aside their wants and desires for me. How I give love seems to be that if you are deserving of my time and energy, then I will invest- cautiously.
This is a far cry from who the Lord has called me to be. I have been reading day after day after day about being a servant and the way Paul loved the Lord so deeply that he loved others despite themselves. Now I have not always liked Paul- he’s rather blunt, straightforward, and quite passionate. These same qualities I used to despise in his writings I have now come to desire. I want that kind of passion that moves me from being served to serving others. I want that ability to love so much that I can be straightforward with others so they understand what the Lord is doing. I want to have the ability to be uncomplicated because I have such a clear understanding of the Lord and a devotion to his will that nothing else matters.
I was recently humbled, which was very needed, to a place where I can see that I talk a good game, but I don’t practice and I certainly don’t play the game. Somewhere along the way my confidence shifted into arrogance. My righteousness gave way to rightfulness. My ability to see the good in others became a source of pride. That pride led me to believe I had something worth more than others. I mean, it just continues. And it is all complete and utter poppycock. I have used excuse after excuse why I am not serving others: time, energy, the nature of my job, not being “called” to a certain type of ministry, feeling as though I am serving in the most insubstantial ways and resting on that being enough… complete… codswallop. I am afraid. I am afraid that if I begin serving, there will be no end, no rest. I am afraid that I will invest my time and energies into something that won’t last or make a difference. I am afraid of getting hurt or being uncomfortable.
How dare I take the free gift of grace, that I did absolutely nothing to deserve, for myself and not, in turn, give that freely to others. How dare I take the love of the Lord and keep it to myself. Is that really love at all?
Thomas Merton spoke of charity when he said, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” I have fallen into the pattern of looking for my own image in others instead of seeing the beauty of the individual. I have criticized when I should have been encouraging.
Ironically enough, as I was allowing this to churn in my thoughts and my heart today, I came across a daily Bible verse:
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 (NIV)