They say honesty, openness, and transparency make for a good blog post. We shall see.
This is one of those written-from-the-heart-I'm-not-sure-what-people-will-think-but-I'm-going-to-risk-it-anyway blogs.
The humbling kind.
The kind that I will still include in my grandchildren's book someday, thankful that they can learn from my mistakes...probably glad that I will be gone by the time they read it. Grandchildren do seem to idolize their grandparents, don't they?
So, I've cancelled all my activities for the day. I've told my husband not to come home for lunch. I've nixed attending tonight's Bible study. All I want to do is cry. And think. And repent.
There are days you can run from what God is saying, and there are days you need to turn around and embrace it. This feels like one of those Jonah Days...when God allows you to slam into a wall and you realize that you have been running in the wrong direction...moving under your own power and understanding...
But now it's time to stop. Turn around. And repent.
In the last 24 hours a friend has lost her husband, a man who was in rehab is now back in ICU fighting for his life, and our son has shared about the tragic death of a neighbor and the loss of his employee's father...both in fatal car crashes. Lord, have mercy.
My heart weeps for all these people...lost in grief and the valley of death...whose arms and lives are now empty. If I didn't believe there was a God in the midst of all this, I'd go crazy.
This morning I received a text message from my nephew. I won't share it...it's personal. And my fear is that you may think more highly of me because of what he wrote. And that would be so, so wrong in light of what God is showing me.
In case you didn't see my brag-posts on FB this past week, you need to know that our nephew just competed in the Olympics...in the Ice Dance program...and with his partner did a phenomenal job of not only representing the USA, but showcasing grace and beauty and dedication. Did he medal? No. They came in fourth. Fourth in the world! But I'm sure that to have been so close to a medal...and not been able to embrace it is one of the hardest things he's ever had to accept.
Before he left for South Korea, each of our children and their families sent a letter to him, to be opened while he was there...to let him know how proud we are of him and that we will be cheering him on and praying for him...that's he's family and family loves no matter what the outcome.
And it's true. We meant every single word we said.
But herein lies the problem...the reason for this blog...
As much as I loved his text to me this morning...as tender as his words were...I wish I could say in response to his words, "That be me! Wow, I AM amazing!"...
But all I could do was weep...
Weep that I hadn't loved him well.
James says, Faith without works is dead. I'd like to change it a bit and say, Love without works is dead.
We can say we love a hundred billion times a day, but if we don't have the actions behind those words, they are in vain...empty...devoid of life.
How many times have my actions betrayed me? How many times have I said, "Oh, I love you...I love them..." but could not have produced a scrap of evidence if taken to court to show it?
I have been praying lately to God to show me how to love better...all those people in my life that drive me crazy...the prickly ones...the ones I would rather leave behind...the ones I would rather hold at an arm's distance.
And then there are those that I do truly love, but don't take the time to show it...using some of my valuable time to be with them...talk with them...invest in them. I'm just so busy with other things, you know? They know I love them, right?
Last week I posted on FB a message by Paul Tripp about the 24 (! ) Things That Love Is. Yeah, that's a lot of things! What he said has been niggling in the back of my mind for the past week...and now has come full force around to smack me in my face.
When I first read it, I thought, "Whoa, how cool is this? It's Valentine's Day and finally a post about what love really is...what love really consists of. I like this! I must share this!"
I can be so pathetic. Just because you share something on FB doesn't mean you are living it.
And that's where I am today. Broken over a text message from the heart of one who hasn't known all the love I have said to have had for him.
I could have...
Gone to see him a dozen times since he's lived in Montreal... a mere 5 hours from my dad's home.
Written more encouraging letters.
Made inconvenient phone calls.
Sent some financial help to make his dreams easier to handle.
But we're all so busy aren't we?
Until a tragedy...or a broken heart or body...or a shattered dream...thrusts itself into our lives and we know the power of a "could have" to wake us up to the truth...
That we haven't loved well. And that it's not too late to change.
My daughter texted me something this morning that I want to share with you...she can take it up with me later if she'd rather I didn't...
And that's what I want to close with...that God's goodness/kindness leads us to repentance....which leads to change.
The conviction I feel about not having loved well is just that...a poke from God...an answer to my prayer to become a better lover...
To love others as He has shown His undying love for me.
I know I can't be perfect. None of us can. We all fall short...every day. And that's what grace is all about.
But I want to be better. Better at loving. And letting others know it.
And the first thing I am going to do? Renew my passport. So I can make a long overdue trip to Montreal.
I pray this has encouraged you, dear one.
Let us pray for one another as we learn the lessons God has for us...lessons of love from His heart to ours!
Below is Tripp's article on love...
I could send the link but if you're like me, you'll never use it.
If you feel called to embrace any of it...thank God...not me.
He's the one behind this glorious "Love Thing"!!
What is love?
You won't find the best answer on the pages of Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster or Shakespeare. No, the best definition of love was established at an event, the most important event in human history: the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ's sacrifice of love is the ultimate example of what love is and what love does. Here's a definition I like to use:
Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.
If we are followers of Jesus Christ and believe in the cross for salvation, then our words and actions and responses must be motivated by cruciform love. That is, love that shapes itself to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (cruci = "cross" and form = "in the shape of").
On this Valentine's Day, here are 23 more ways that you can express cruciform love in your daily living.
1. LOVE IS being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
2. LOVE IS actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
3. LOVE IS making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
4. LOVE IS being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
5. LOVE IS being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
6. LOVE IS a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
7. LOVE IS being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
8. LOVE IS making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
9. LOVE IS being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
10. LOVE IS being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.
11. LOVE IS being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
12. LOVE IS being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
13. LOVE IS recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
14. LOVE IS speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.
15. LOVE IS being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
16. LOVE IS being unwilling to ask another person to be the source of your identity, meaning, and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of theirs.
17. LOVE IS the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.
18. LOVE IS a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.
19. LOVE IS staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.
20. LOVE IS the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.
21. LOVE IS being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
22. LOVE IS refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
23. LOVE IS daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
Paul David Tripp
photo credit: ben_ho_sg <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/57035425@N00/30786006715">Jonah prays in the fish DSC05102</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>