Monthly Archives: November 2011

Love begets love

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Right now, I’m living with the most wonderful group of girls. In our home, we share many memories and many laughs. We cry together and feast together. We worship and we dance. Above all, we strive to live intentionally, fully invested in one another’s life. Instead of booking up our schedules with obligations and busyness, we set aside time for togetherness, valuing the relationships and ministry found in our very own home.

It took a bit of time for me to assimilate to this model. I was used to busyness. (Still am.) And I was used to living in a home where everyone was busy. No matter where I lived or who I lived with (and oh, I’ve lived with many), it was the same thing. People going-going-going, passing their housemates like ships in the night. I know because I was probably the worst of them.

A happy house of five

When I moved into this house, I was excited for a slower pace of life, and a home bordering romantic fields and farms and open country. More than that, however, I was excited about living with women who had a history of challenging my thinking and my faith.

Of the four gals, I’d seriously done life with three: sharing meals, Bible studies and ministry at YD Adventures. We were connected.

But not Jessica. She was a freshie in my life. In the midst of a busy summer schedule and the occasional family dinner, we slowly connected, ultimately finding common ground in our random acts of goofiness and dance… plus, of course, an undeniable love for Jesus. From there, we built a bond that developed into a beautiful relationship: one where we both give and we both take.

I never knew the sacrifice that went into fully loving a person or fully letting them into your life. But I have found it is most joy-giving to be a friend – especially one fit with vulnerability and a willingness to surrender personal will or want.

I don’t always have that naturally. Sometimes Jess runs down the stairs when I come home from work, anxious to connect. Exhausted and looking forward to some solitude, I routinely have to fight the urge to send her away. I choose to fight it, because I know it is important to her. I know that my reaction could be damaging. And I also know that, within minutes, I’ll experience the deep joy of relationship.

It’s a tiny little thing. But it matters. Other times we dance together and pray together. She braids my hair and asks me to tuck her into bed. I do it because it’s more than just tucking her in. It’s a time for her to feel special and loved, when we both share vulnerably from the heart. Sometimes, especially when I’m sick (like now), she offers to tuck me into bed, kneeling at my bed and praying for me like I do with her.

I thank God for delighting me with this new discovery: of what it means to really love someone. For allowing me to see how I can give more and surrender more, to be all He has asked and to live out His commands. It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s rarely easy. But when I see that my biggest obstacle is myself, I begin to be a part of the solution. After all, love begets love. And the Source of love is much bigger than you and me.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  – John 15:13

A cozy nook… and love

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I find it interesting how commonalities draw us closer to people and build bridges of relationship and trust. Too often, I think, we walk with people who look and sound like us. And we don’t reach out to those around us who are different, or already “in”. Yet isn’t that the spice of life? Isn’t that the beauty of this world? Didn’t God create a people who are so vastly different in personality and character that we might be challenged in how we think and believe? Honestly, how else might we find a viewpoint that shakes our world for the better?

Maybe because comfortable is easy.

For example… Currently, I’m sitting in my living room, wrapped up in a soft wool blanket, cup of coffee tucked between my leg and the couch’s arm beside me. To my right, a gas fireplace awaits a quick flick of the switch, and to my left, pillows stack high around me, tucking me neatly into a little nook, deep in the couch. My view stretches beyond the big picture window in front of me into our lush backyard, green and gold with the fall’s turning colors. Beautiful as it may be, the sky is gray and dreary, per normal November mornings, and nothing about it makes me want to go out and leave the comfort of my cozy nook.

Love sweet love

Yet there is something within me that says: Go out for a walk. Enjoy the cool, crisp air on your face, and the stretch of your legs. Take in the colorful countryside and swap greetings with your neighbors. It could be cold, and it might rain, but in the end, you will be glad you stepped outside of your comfort zone to enjoy something different and good.

And you know, I am almost always glad. Because at least I didn’t just sit there and watch life happen around me, wondering “what if?”

This makes me think of my boyfriend, an amazing man of God who was, upon first glance, much different from me. It definitely shook my world to invite him in. But once I did, I experienced a fantastic eye-opening that led to the most beautiful love I’ve ever known. Had I let those external differences build a barrier instead of a bridge, I would have hugely missed out. I’ve been freed from shackles and chains, able to love and let love in. I praise God every day for inviting me into this healing with Him… and for giving me the strength to persevere and go into the “uncomfortable” with Him.

The thing is, I now know. I have the “before” and “after,” the big picture. If I could just remember God’s faithfulness the next time life takes an unexpected turn! If I could just recall the process – how God broke me and challenged me… and led me into His peace and joy. I don’t want to forget that specific journey, just like I don’t want to forget all of the other stories of God’s faithfulness. It took faith to walk into that place. And I’m guessing I’ll need faith to walk many more a road ahead. Holy God, I thank you for bringing me into the uncomfortable and breaking in me that which needed breaking. For giving me more than I could have ever imagined, for loving me relentlessly, for embracing my imperfections and cleansing my heart. Your love is a symphony. Help me to continue to trust you as I go where you say to go… even if it’s the uncomfortable. Amen

“… and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road…” Genesis 24:48