Thursday, February 14, 2013

Novice Lover

I think of coming 'round to this little blog more often then not. It seems, however, that recently there's so much I could say, and so I say nothing at all. There's much to filter through: comings and goings, ups and downs, plans made and undone, spiritual growth and failures, thoughts, ideas, longings. Where to begin when I have a moment to sit down and record, I just don't know.

But today is Valentine's Day. It's a day for lovers, for family; a day to express love, affection, and friendship.

And I feel like such a novice on the matter of love.

How does love stay fresh, I wonder, year after year, when the weight of life crushes down? What compels a couple to nurture a love that grows deeper, more intimate, more spiritual amidst the normal, mundane, and ordinary? How does it stay fiery and hot when life makes you weary, tired, and used up?

How do I love my children sacrificially, with the kind of sacrifice that is for the good of another, and not the kind that says, "See what I have done for you? Now you owe me." How do I love in a way that says, "I love you for who you are," and not, "I kinda love you but I'll love you more if you change."

How do I love family far off, flesh and blood like my own, but whose lives are growing less familiar to me? How does one stay connected when time and distance disconnects?

And what about friends, kindred spirits I no longer see? What about the friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one-- how do I actively love her? And the women that so faithfully serve and encourage me, how do I serve them in love?

The people who show up to church, those who are so different from myself, but who share the same inheritance and who belong to the same eternal family... How do I get past my own awkwardness and extend a loving gesture, a word that encourages and builds up? What about those of the same eternal household, the ones who critically judge and whose standards I don't measure up to? How do I love them despite discomfort and hurt?

Oh, and the unlovable and rejected, the ones I know are out there but that are not in my life... How can I love someone who has never known love? How can the love of Christ shine through me?

So many people I am to love. People I want to love. This failure that I am --trying but failing-- I wonder how I can do it.

But this I know: "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

It is possible to learn and grow to love.

He sought me and loved me and made me a new creature. His life as recorded in scripture teaches what love is, and His Spirit which lives within me is changing me. Because of His grace and His work in my life, I can be a vessel of love to those around me.

Yet, I admit, I have much to learn.

In my desire to love better, I have discovered that I cannot look within myself for inspiration, for greater resolve or commitment, or for the method of loving others. My ideas and methods prove futile and even counterproductive. I desire to love, but each time it's a failure. It's more like an explosion of selfishness that occurs the moment love requires death to self.

And guess what? Love simply cannot happen without death to the beast of self. I must look to Christ and I must be led by the Spirit. Otherwise, without exception, I cannot love beyond mushy, sentimental, and fickle type of love. I need Him in order to love with sincere, enduring, and selfless love.

I need Him to love through me.

Michael and Andrew were more interested in taking pictures than in sitting for a picture. This is my face when boys dressed up in army gear handle my camera like it's part of their game...
Flowers from Andrew, picked from the back yard.

Valentine's Day this year was pretty low-key. We had a special breakfast together, put together sort of on the fly as our original plans were altered. Tonight we had several kiddos over so that our friends can go out for dinner. I've been thinking recently about how the devil just loves to destroy Christian marriages, marriages that are to be a picture of Christ's love for the church. He loves nothing more than to soil that image. So I am motivated to be on guard not only for my own marriage, but also for the marriages of my friends, brothers and sisters in Christ.


1 comment:

  1. You are ministering to me, friend. Olivia looks like her daddy.


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