Somebody once told me if she heard that stale phrase again, she’d upchuck her lunch.
Yes, that’s gross, but it tells you how meaningless the once-golden expression has become.
“Fine. Okay,” she said, “I’ll try to love my neighbor. Whatever.”
I bet I know what you’re thinking …
“IS SHE SERIOUSLY WRITING ABOUT LOVE?
(Don’t check out yet! Let me explain!)
As most bloggers do, I spend a fair amount of time contemplating the subject of my next post, especially with this “A to Z Challenge”.
(Ugh. I actually got the jitters when I just typed it!)
The word has become trite (overused; lacking originality and freshness).
If you pay attention to how frequently it’s spoken, you’ll understand what I’m getting at.
“I LOVE the weather today!”
“I LOVE chocolate chip cookies!”
I LOVE my new shoes!”
THOUSANDS OF “L” WORDS, AND I CHOOSE THIS ONE?
Here’s why …
I woke up yesterday in a foul mood. I hadn’t slept well and was covered in negativity. I even considered playing hooky from church. I just didn’t feel like being around anybody.
Having identified my sour attitude before I even lifted my head from my pillow, I prayed (even though I wasn’t in the mood to pray).
I’ll spare you the details, but it ended like this.
“Jesus, help me to love others.”
Then I realized what I’d done!
I wasn’t asking that Jesus help me to be nice.
I wasn’t even asking that He put me in a better mood.
I was asking that He help soften my heart so I could love the way He loves.
That’s a bold request!
Had I realized what I was saying before the words slipped out, I may have restructured my sentence.
But, it was too late.
LOVE AIN’T SO BAD!
So, I am writing about LOVE, but not as you might expect.
LOVE IS LIKE CHOCOLATES OR FLOWERS … THERE ARE MANY VARIETIES!
We all know there are several types of LOVE
LOVE for yellow roses
LOVE for our pets
LOVE for our families
LOVE for our children
LOVE for our spouses
LOVE for God
We’re not talking about any of these today. Hurray!
LET’S TREAT OTHERS (EXCEPT FOR STRANGERS AND MEAN PEOPLE) WITH AGAPE LOVE
Agape Love is selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. It’s the kind of love Jesus demonstrated when He was walking around in human form. The best part is, I hear we’re all capable of it (as impossible as that seems)!
And, as difficult as it is to comprehend, for some reason, God even wants us to show this kind of love to those we don’t know AND to those who are mean, hateful, and nasty to us!
Wow! That “God Guy” sure likes to think outside of the box!
UM … THERE MUST BE SOME KIND OF MISTAKE …
I’m not big on quoting the Bible. Sometimes, it comes across as preachy and loses its meaning when the words are simply recited.
But sometimes, it’s necessary to get the point across.
Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
And one more …
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
We’ve probably heard the lines thousands of times in one context or another. In fact, they’ve been recited to the point where they’ve become pointless.
I’m guilty of brushing them off as “feel-good” sayings. I’m even at fault for thinking that God may not have truly understood what He was asking. He must’ve made some kind of mistake. I mean, it’s an illogical request, isn’t it?
CAN WE HONESTLY LOVE PEOPLE WE DON’T EVEN KNOW?
It’s so easy to confuse LOVING somebody with tolerating them, being nice to them, or appreciating them.
If I tell you, “I love you, my faithful blog readers!”
Do you think I really love you?
Would it be more appropriate if I said, “I appreciate you!?”
Don’t get me wrong.
I want to genuinely love every one of you.
I even want to love people who will never read this blog or …
… dare I say?
I actually desire to love those who think this blog sucks!
(Oh gosh! It’s hard to even type it! How am I supposed to actually live it?)
Nike coined the phrase and it bears repeating …
JUST DO IT!
Sure, romantic love tends to start off as an emotion, but most other love varieties are just the opposite.
They begin as a decision.
Then, they’re followed by an action.
In time, a sincere emotion evolves.
As hard as it is to choose to love the mean kid who picked on our child at school or the neighbor who spreads lies about us, that is precisely what we are supposed to do.
But, we have to start by making a decision and following it up with an action (sometimes, that action is a simple prayer). When we’re diligent in our efforts, Jesus will work on our hearts until, eventually, an emotion will develop.
COME ON! IT’S EASY!!
Okay, no it’s not (I’m just trying to keep your attention for one more minute) …
Ever wonder why God had to make things so hard for us?
Because He knew we could do it. He created us to be capable of this “impossible” task!
He knew that we would receive and deliver blessings when we challenged ourselves to rise to the charge! (Admit it … when things come easy, we don’t acquire the same measure of joy as when we had to work for them!)
Yesterday, after I asked Jesus to help me love others, I got to church and felt God softening my demeanor.
I actually wanted to be around people! But I had to choose to behave in that manner before the emotion followed the choice.
God made us to love each other, even when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and would rather grimace at people than embrace them.
Since we’re created to be loving beings, that’s why it feels so good when we finally make the decision to act on it!
BUT, DO I REALLY LOVE MY BLOG READERS?
You bet I do! I pray for you often. I think of you throughout the day.
You’ve become my friends.
It started with a choice.
I chose to reach out to you and you chose to reach back.
God created us to do this … to connect with each other … to support each other … to be there for each other, even if we’re across the world from one another!
Ninety percent of the time, before I write my posts, I pray.
I ask God to help me write what He wishes to see from me.
I ask Him to reach whomever He wants reached through the words I write.
I pray that He’ll lead them to “Writing in a Raindrop” and to speak to their hearts so they know that they’re not standing alone in the raindrops of life.
I do this because He has given me a heart to love you.
It’s true! I genuinely care about the other humans with whom I share this planet (that’s you), even those who don’t see eye to eye with me.
I’ve had to deal with being judged and ridiculed. I confess – it wasn’t easy to love them at first. It took a lot of prayer and effort.
But, God never said it would be easy.
I remind myself that we are all created in God’s image.
Knowing that, how can we not have a dose of love and compassion for one another?
Oh, by the way, the ten percent that I don’t pray before I write, I can see a difference – both in my writing, and in the response I get from readers. It’s always better when I invite God to be part of the process with me!
This week, let’s pick one person who is hard to love and choose to love them.
We can start small.
Select the obnoxious person in line behind you at the store. You know the one I’m talking about! They’re burping in your ear and complaining about everything under the sun.
Maybe, offer to let them go in front of you or secretly pay for their meal.
Whatever the “love gesture” is, understand that you are doing it to glorify your Creator. Don’t do it with a crummy attitude or out of obligation.
Try to have a sincere heart, as you perform whichever act you choose. If you don’t, say a quick prayer.
You know my heart. I’m struggling to like this person, must less love them as You have instructed. Help me to see them through Your eyes. Help me to love the unlovable. Help me to forgive those who have hurt me and to offer them my forgiveness through a ‘love gesture’. Where my heart is hard, Father, I ask you to help me soften it.
In the name of Jesus, who made all things possible.
LOVE LIKE HE HAS LOVED US
We sang a song in church yesterday called, “Hosanna”. There are a couple of lines in it that serve as terrific reminders, as we walk out in faith and choose to love others:
- “Show me how to love like You have loved me.”
- “Break my heart for what breaks yours … “
Friends, I don’t want to preach and I’m not ignorant to our challenges, but I know that God gave us the command to “Love others” for a reason.
Not only will it make the lives of other people brighter, it will put a smile on God’s face and it will, ultimately, brighten our own spirits!