Love Isn’t What You Thought it Was

Love is NOT an action. Love is NOT a verb.

Maybe I’m taking it too far. After all, it is the well-meaning marriage counselor staring across her office at the young couple engaged in an only slightly contained version of offensive PDA, who says it. She wants to warn them that the honeymoon phase won’t last forever.

Or, it’s the aged and experienced pastor, reminding his flock that love endures all things, it doesn’t give up as soon as the circumstances no longer feel good.

That’s what we mean, right? We’re trying to say that love doesn’t always evoke warm fuzzies. It isn’t always carrying a long-stemmed rose. Love doesn’t necessarily pal around with happiness. Love has guts. Love digs in, hangs on, fights through and comes out on the other side. 

So I agree, love is not a feeling. But I stand by the truth that love is not an action either.

First Corinthians 13 is the “Love Chapter”, known by Christians and unbelievers alike as the quintessential description of the highest, most unattainable, unhuman-like love. It’s what we strive for and then console ourselves when we fail saying, “we’re only human”.

When I read that long definition of LOVE, I’m am struck more by what Love is not and what it does not do than what it is or does.

“…love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing…Love never ends.”

To me, this says that for those of us who are learning Love from the Savior who IS Love,  we will need to exercise more restraint from what comes naturally, than effort to perform a list of lovely actions.

The Bible doesn’t say Love is an activist. It doesn’t say Love sets out to change the world. In fact, some things in this list suggest that such actions are often attempted without love. Frequently, our intent to change the world looks like we’re fighting for our own way, behaving rudely or being resentful.

Love doesn’t constantly offer advice. (This includes counseling, nagging and reprimanding our husbands, kids or friends.)

People with Down Syndrome are known for their ability to love far beyond what we deem normal, even without the full capacity to do many things. We admire the limitless love of our pets, referring to their unconditional love, even as they cannot verbalize their emotions.

How well do we feel loved by a bed-ridden grandma who really can’t do anything for us anymore? Or do we experience love through the prayers of a church body we’ve never seen? Or do we admire the love and joy emanating from an impoverished African child, who has little ability to do much for anyone?

Love isn’t an action.
Love isn’t a feeling.
Love is a person, and those who know Him best ought to be those who radiate it most brightly. Just as those standing closest to a candle will be most illuminated. Love is a Being, not a doing. A Being who always IS with us and doesn’t run from our unloveliness.

I’m So Glad You Love Me

Unveil my eyes.

Bury your world deep inside me.

Waft your sweet Spirit’s fragrance past my nose.

Let me taste the refreshment of your fruit,

And offer its bounty to a hungry world.

Sing over me a chorus of your glory and affection.

Be more real than me, myself.

Excise and destroy my unbelief.

Press me deeply into you

Until we are more one than two.

Holy Empty

Abba, teach me to be completely careless,

Radically change me into wholly fearless.

Exacerbate my human weakness.

Show me Jesus, make me speechless.

Rip from my hands all that’s worthless.

I want to see NOW in disciples, in emptiness, in hope, in eternity,

In faces, in hearts, in today, in tomorrow, in expectation

Your Holiness.

From my journal – August 8, 2008

The cashier is screaming at me.

She can’t see the tears streaming down my face, or she might stop.

“You idiot!  My time is more significant than yours and apparently I’m a lot smarter too.”

She has a job, she’s doing something productive with the minutes of her day.

She counts for something to someone.

I feel stupid, and insignificant.

A pretty shelf decoration, unneeded, unless on rare occasion

I’m strong enough to hold up someone’s book of knowledge.

Maybe I’m not even that pretty.

My mind starts screaming at me.

Your blinds have no excuse to be dusty –

That’s the most important, only responsibility you have and you can’t even do that.

Why in the world is there a dust spot from dissolved snow on your floor,

what else do you have to do?

Are you stupid? Or maybe you’re tired, though I have no idea why –

What taxed your energy?  Oh, I forget, you work out, whew, don’t work that brain too hard.

P.S. Enjoy this post by an author that I enjoy!  Peach Friedman: Wistful

Absolute Me

It is the best of time and the worst of times.  The best of places, the worst of places. The best of me, the worst of me.

I guess that’s what family brings out of us.

I’m spending a couple weeks in Indian territory (Oklahoma and Kansas).  I probably already told you that.  Before I left, I was counting days.  The best memories have been made in my parents’ home. The back porch, the basement bedroom, the kitchen table, the coffee pot…beckon me to relive old memories, embellish treasured moments and create new experiences.

This trip also took me back to my grandparents’ home.  I haven’t been there since December 2006.  It smelled the same.   Most of the same people were there.  The only changes were a few more clocks, ticking with their own rhythms and their own special celebrations of every hour.  New pictures of weddings and babies fill new frames.  Grandma never seems to replace a picture, only add to them.  The only change – Granddad wasn’t there.

On the last day there, I laid on my back on the floor in coolness of Granddad’s room.  I stared at the ceiling and admired the sameness of the the wall ornaments, law books and old VHS movies.  I lost a few tears as they slipped into my ears.

That’s where the best and worst met.  The best memories and worst finale – death.  You can’t have one without the other.  The biggest hugs and funniest conversations around the table with loved ones, inevitably must end with goodbye kisses and sad farewells.

I love being here, but I also seem to lose a bit of myself.  It began in the airport.  Surrounded by thousands of other people with their own agendas – each as important as and independent from my own, I began to feel as if I was watching myself meander through the terminals.  Now, I’m surrounded by my favorite people but I can’t carve out silent moments with Jesus or two uninterrupted hours with my journal.  So, which is the real me?

Beloved Entertainer

Granddad was a natural entertainer.  He didn’t burst into “Singing in the Rain,” or any other musical themes.  He didn’t quote lines from famous movies.  I never saw him dance a step – except at my sisters’ weddings.

Granddad refused to let anyone be bored.  If there wasn’t something fun to be doing, he could find a chore for you.  I will never forget the afternoon my sisters and I spent on our dirty, kid knees scrubbing the grout in my mother’s kitchen with a toothbrush.  When we finished it was almost white and all along I had thought it was a dingy mauve.

Granddad had a knack for making work fun.  However, “work shed” is a misnomer from a child’s perspective.  When I was young, every trip to Grandma’s house involved a trip to the work shed.  There Granddad had screaming saws, tubes and buckets of paint, yard tools and dangerously sticky substances that we were not allowed to touch.

A few years before, the work shed’s space had been a carport for Granddad and Grandma’s RV.  What a fantastic invention – traveling in your home!  I vowed once that I would never marry, but grow up, get a German shepherd and travel the country in my RV finding work when necessary.  When Granddad and Grandma parted with their RV, I somehow forgot about its magic, and that dream faded.

One specific project of mine that emerged from the work shed was a little wooden dog.  It was so thin that it was almost two dimensional.  It had long, floppy ears.  Granddad carved it for me on the circular saw, turning the fine piece of wood with great dexterity following lines that only an artist like Granddad could draw freehand.  Afterwards, he set me up on a bar stool, close to his workbench.  With a palette of acrylic paints before be, I got busy adding the puppy’s eyes and paws and selecting his spots.  In the meantime, the master creator began to work on my sisters’ projects.

I never saw Granddad read anything except the newspaper.  But he loved a good story.  Grandma had a library of heart-warming novels that she packed on every road trip or read a few lines before bedtime.  She also read their daily devotional out loud.  One of the mysteries of my grandparents is that I never saw one without the other.  They thought the same, loved the same – the definition of persons completing each other.

Granddad and Grandma had an array of movies.  To this day, I don’t know how many DVDs they have.  We always watched “Winnie the Pooh” and “Mary Poppins” and “Meet Me in St. Louis,” on an old-fashioned VCR.  For regular shows, Granddad followed Star Trek with some regularity.  I fancied myself a fan, though I never saw an episode in between visits to my grandparents’ house.

One Christmas, Uncle Richard gave Granddad a book of Calvin and Hobbs comic strips.  Somehow, someone decided that Granddad loved it and wanted to collect all of the commemorative editions.  I don’t know that Granddad ever read one, but for at least two years, I read and re-read them every time we visited.  I loved to sit in the glider rocker, in the sunroom and ignore my suddenly “immature” siblings.

The quintessential way to pass time with Granddad always involved a deck of cards.  At their house, we learned to play Cribbage and Rummy and Spades and a game with a bad-word name that we re-named “Oh P-shaw!”  Otherwise, we could pull out the dominoes or poker chips or dice.  Picking a long game was a sure way to stay up late at Granddad’s house.

Happily Ever After in Whose World

Do you know why there was never a sequel to Cinderella?  How come no one ever told us what happened AFTER Aurora married the prince?  And seriously, I have always wondered what happened to Belle after Beast emerged from the sparkling whirlwind as gorgeous (subject to opinion) royalty.

I’ll tell you why in a world of prequels and sequels that ruin everything that a good movie had going for it – because “happily ever after” isn’t real.  In fact, even the producers can imagine what “happily ever after” would really look like, so leave it to our imaginations.  Unfortunately, that leaves us believing that our marriages aren’t delivering on the promise of “happily ever after.”

“Love is blind and marriage is the eye opener.” (Unknown)

I’m not picking on marriage.  I’m really not interested in matrimonial happiness.  I want you to think about what makes you happy.

A foundational lie is the idea that happiness is objective.  Think about those good old Disney movies.  Happiness = being pretty, having a prince, coming into money.  Or, think about what our culture tells adults.  Happiness = being thin like Princess Kate, having the perfect dress or other clothes, being able to afford vacations and nice cars, being gainfully and happily employed.

No, on your deepest level, you may not believe that these things equal happiness.  But, ask anyone you meet on the street, or sincerely ask yourself, “On the fly, off the top of your head – tell me what it takes to be happy.”

The Apostle Paul said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Phil. 4:11

Take a look at these pictures, tell me, is happiness objective? or subjective?

 

 

How Does a Christian Say “NO”?

How does one experience margin?

When patience, composure are wearing thin?

Exhausted, agreeable, everything’s doable.

To tell someone “No” is the greatest of sin.

How does a Christian say “No”?

Just grin and grit with cheeks aglow.

It’s not allowed in good-girl land.

She’s no recourse to take her stand.

She must concede her Christ to show.

“Would you mind? May I please borrow?”

“You’ll help me out, please, tomorrow?”

She will always lower her flag, extend her hand.

How does a Christian say “No”?

She’s tired, someone says, “I told you so.

“Sometimes you simply must say ‘No.'”

They are next to ask her to lend a hand.

Their pleading words, a cloaked demand.

Her resolve will rarely withstand the blow.

How does a Christian say “No”?

Productivity and a FREEBIE!

Do, do, do, do, do – be productive – the results must be quantifiable.  

Every single day, and I mean EVERY SINGLE DAY, I battle with the productivity demons.  It’s funny to me the cultural dichotomy that promotes career, success, activity, civic involvement, seems to glorify sleepless nights spent at the office, intense workouts and multi-tasking…balanced against the growing popularity of Yoga and Pilates, mediation and silent retreats.  Does it seem odd to you that these two ideas co-exist?  On which side of the teeter-totter do sit?

The book, The Art of Being, really put a speed bump in my rush to get things done.  I have been re-reading it now and reminded of how good still feels and how loudly God speaks when I am still.  That is where He wants me to know him.

Contance Rhodes, founder of Finding Balance, compiled original essays by top contemporary Christian recording artist.  The authors are candid, transparent, humble and encouraging as they explain how God taught them to be still.  For some of them, God used drastic measures.  I learned about dark places in the lives of people whom I once thought “had it all.”  Christine Dente’s story brought tears of empathy to my eyes.

I am giving away a copy of the book, The Art of Being!  Leave a comment here telling me how you deal with productivity and stillness.  All commenters will be entered in a drawing.  In fact, each individual comment will earn an entry to the drawing.  You have until Monday.  That’s all you have to do!  Good luck!