Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Loving Is Hard

If you haven't learned yet, I'll just come out and tell you.  When I get fired-up about something, I tend to write about it here.  That is, after burning a hole in Jamey's ear.  First I'll unpack my thoughts.  Then I'll tell you where the inspiration came from.

Love.  We're supposed to love everyone, right?  Not supposed to, we are called to.  I learned that when I was little.  Learning it and understanding it is often easier than doing it.  Sometimes, loving people is easy.  Most of us love the members of our families, our best-est  friends, and many others close to us.  Loving these people is a cinch.  In fact, it's downright enjoyable to do nice things for them, to express our feelings in words and gestures.  They make it easy.

Then, there are those folks who tend to push our buttons.  All of our buttons.  At once.  We know we should do a better job of loving them, but it's just so hard.  It takes so much energy and often means getting nothing in return for our attempts.  How can we love them as well?

This past weekend, there was a women's retreat held at our church based on Beth Moore's Loving Well series.  That woman speaks to my heart.  Or should I say that God speaks to my heart through that woman?  {I think it's rather comical that I think so much of Beth Moore.  She's about as different from me as different can be.  She has big hair, I have flat hair.  She wears cute, designer outfits, I wear yoga pants and old t-shirts.  She self-tans, I'm always as white as a sheet.  I'm Mennonite, she's Baptist.  One thing transcends all that- our desire to know God better and live a life that pleases Him.  She says things how they are and uses scripture to do so.  That's important to me.}

Beth insists that in order to have the capacity and ability to love those who seem impossible to love, we must allow God to love us.  To love us to the point of over-flowing so that His love spills over.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." 1 John 4:7

The excess can then be used to love those folks who are difficult to love.  When we are burnt out, when our well is dry, it's not that we need to try harder, be nicer, and wear ourselves out more in our attempts to love.  What we need to do is let God love us.

Let God love us.

For me, that's easier said than done.  I know in my head that God loves me.  Do I feel it to the extent that I could?  No.  I don't take the time.  I don't give Him the space.  I don't allow myself to be vulnerable enough because of either one of two things happen.  One, I don't feel as if I deserve His unconditional love.  Two, I can't seem to rest in the fact that I can do no more AND no less to change how much God loves me.  Are you following me?

I grew up understanding (in my head) the part about how God won't love me less because I make mistakes, no matter how big.  What I realized this weekend is that God won't love me more either.  Not if I'm a better mom, not if I'm a better wife, not if I raise my voice at my kids less, not if I participate more in church, not if I sin less and love more.  All those are good things to be and do, but they WILL NOT change God's love for me.  His love is already at it's maximum.  God's maximum!  Wrap your head around that one.

"...God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."  1 John 4:  12b

Another revelation was that God doesn't love me in the same way I love, not even in the same way I love Jamey or my children.  My love for them waxes and wanes with how they behave and act towards me.  My love for them is a feeling.  It's subject to change even though it's the strongest human love I'm capable of.  God IS love.  He doesn't feel love.  (I'm taking this right out of Beth's mouth).  God's love is part of His Godness.  It's who He is.  It doesn't change.  It's perfect.

"God is love." 1 John 4:16b

So, I possess God's perfect, maximum love- just the way I am.  Talk about a humbling revelation.  The big question that follows, for me, is how can I allow myself to feel this love?  I want to feel it.  I want to bask in it.  I want to allow it to over-flow in me so I can use it to love those around me without feeling as though my well has run dry.

What do you do to allow God's love to penetrate?  He doesn't just want to love you.  He already does- perfectly and at the highest level He (God!) is capable of.  What are we waiting for?  Let's get on our knees or stand with our hands in the air and receive it.

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." 1 John 4: 16
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  1. oh beth, oh beth... how she tells it like it is. and how different I feel sometimes from her, but her words cut straight thru, and she uses scripture, knows it, means it, loves it. She's the real deal. Doesn't want to be an idol and points the way to Him.
    When I'm stressed or bugged, especially about folks that aren't easy to love, my neck gets tight, onesided tight. But I have to relax and let it go. really let it go. it would be easy to feel compelled to straighten it out, but I can't solve everything, fix everything, or even be heard if I try to sort it out.
    Does that disavow(did I use that word right?) me of my responsibility to Eph 5 'shine the light in the darkness' expose & reprove? (loosely paraphrased)? Sometimes loving with gentleness will allow the scripture to be heard. This may be my soapbox, unrelated. But I find this often when I think I'm a sinking ship with kids and family. Having no real answers to what is wrong in our family. I am trying to relax & hug alot more. Being more grace filled, loving as God loves, unconditionally. Not condoning the transgression that is undesired but loving inspite of it.
    My actions towards my dh can really be seen/felt when I'm not looking towards God in this way.
    And kids, oh they catch the worst of it... more grace please, 2 or 3 helpings.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this topic. This past weekend's retreat was very significant for me as well. The statement that I took from the weekend was this...

    "I'm not like them."

    I saw that statement in the workbook. Beth had a list of things that she wants us to understand that God is saying to us about his love for us. "I'm not like them." Nope, God doesn't disappoint, he doesn't let us down, he continues to love no matter how we treat him.

  3. Wow. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...this is a perfect post. Love. It is such a simple word...yet we don't DO it. We don't SAY it. We don't express it. It is so interesting that you write about this at this time...God has really been working on me in the "love" department...but I didn't realize it until just now as I read your post. I knew it...but now I KNOW it. Thank you for sharing your heart...

    ps...I heard Beth Moore say just a few weeks ago that God told her to stop telling Him she loved Him...and to instead say to Him, "I love you, too" because He first loved us. Isn't that cool? I've been doing it...and it makes me smile and my eyes water every time.

  4. What a wonderful and thought provoking post! How beautiful that the Lord is ministering to your heart these truths from HIS WORD!

    Oh, YES...I "get it"! We do not love as the Lord does...but with His help we can minister His love to others...and ONLY with His help is it possible to really love the unlovable. It takes constant prayer and the "feelings" may not come at all, but a peace and grace to do it with no strings attached.

    About the Lord and His love for His are right ~ we can do NOTHING to earn greater love from Him, and NOTHING to lessen His love for us! How AMAZING that thought really is!

    The best place to begin to "feel" is to really meditate on His Word and pray about it...He will minister to you there.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Perhaps God told you of a little problem I've been having? :) This post was well timed for me.

  6. We're on the same page this week! I wrote a post on Monday about our sermon at church on Sunday and our pastor's challenge for us to be more loving. Deliberately, consciously loving. That love is not a feeling that comes and goes but that it is an action, commanded of us by God. I remember learning (from Beth Moore) that the "Love Chapter" is not meant to be a romantic bit of prose just for weddings and anniversaries. She said that God is love and that we should try reading that chapter substituting 'God' wherever 'love' is written. Humbling.... That is how God loves us! And, that is how we should love others. That 'revelation' really helped me to understand God's love for me and the way I should be consciously and deliberately loving others. Not easy! I get hung up on the whole 'Love is patient' thing and that's write at the beginning!:)
    Thank you for this post and for sharing these thoughts! Danielle

  7. P.S. I failed to mention in my earlier comment that while God "isn't like them," I need to remind myself that I can't expect people to be like God!

  8. Thanks so much for posting this- it's completely how I've felt lately, on so many levels! I have such a hard time letting myself feel God's love- it may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm a control freak. ;)
    I love Beth Moore's studies. I always learn so much! I just finished the Esther series and it was great!
    Thanks again for the encouraging post. It's so nice to hear that someone else is dealing with the same things I am.

  9. LOVE what you've shared. I agree, God is using Beth to speak to me too. LOVE LOVE LOVE this ....

    "He doesn't just want to love you. He already does- perfectly and at the highest level He (God!) is capable of."

    thanks for sharing your heart.

  10. Hi! I found you thru a recipe pin on Pinterest... I love your blog!! Your values are wonderful & I admire that you & your family are trying so hard to live life in such a way. Hubby & I are early in our walk, but making good progress; this is what we are striving for!

    I've heard great things about Ms. Moore, but have not read any of her books myself as yet. I am currently rather addicted to Joyce Meyers; she really tells it like it is! {& uses some often embarrassing stories about herself to do so!} God has said a lot to me via Ms. Meyers. A non-denominational group of area Christian ladies gathers once a month & we watch her via DVD; I always enjoy those evenings!

    In my job, I often find it VERY difficult to remember the all-encompassing love that God wants me to keep in my heart...but I am daily trying to do so!! If you can imagine: for the past 24 years I have been a Correctional Officer in an adult male facility...but it is actually my fellow staff members who try me the most!! *sigh*

    Btw: "What are we waiting for? Let's get on our knees or stand with our hands in the air and receive it." <~~~ I just adore that last bit. 8-)

    P.S.: I tried to upload a pic, but it {the page? my 'puter?} won't let me! 8-P


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