How to love. How to love.

When I think of the people who make me feel most loved, I also realize they make me feel special. And I don’t just feel special, they don’t just throw me in an endorphin frenzy. Such people actually make me believe I have something worthwhile to contribute to the world and frankly that I’m (kind of) awesome. I leave their presence feeling empowered. And really liking them, too. 

I’ve been pondering what it means for me to love the way I was intentionally created to. I guarantee it resembles Jesus, I guarantee I’m lightyears away from living out my unique way to love as was intended. But still, I am curious. And I’m asking myself the question “How can I love people better?” A question I think has become more theoretical than applicable, if we ever even get around to asking ourselves.

It’s a quick slip into the superficial actions as a Christian. To love by letting ourselves mindlessly settle by performing the “right things.” You hug strangers in the church lobby, tell everyone you’re praying for them and that they’re amazing

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with these things. But honestly, acting as a baseline for a Christian culture thumbs-up of an acceptable standard is shallow in terms of how loving others is supposed to be. And I don’t know about you but I can smell a flippant compliment from a lengthy distance away. 

Please don’t discern my words as a call to condemnation, rather an invitation. One that ushers you into asking yourself the question, “How can I love people better?” 

Jesus tells us to love our ENEMIES. Though it seems like Sunday School 101 if we remember that our “enemies” are synonymous to our “haters”, “people on our last nerve” and the “people who do harm” we are faced with the challenge this command holds. He also tells us to love people who are different than us. Who may or may not share a similar skin tone, but more so hold different beliefs (gasp!), social status and life goals. 

Tonight as I ask myself “How can I love people better?” I return back to the notion of reminding others of their worth. It’s remembering that God created the person I am speaking with on purpose with purpose. It’s being present enough to discern if the mode of speaking or showing is most effective in making someone know how special they are. It’s asking God for His eyes to see the goodness in someone when I can’t find it myself. 

I don’t want people to walk away from me thinking about how awesome I am, but how special they are and how great God is. This is how I feel called to love.

You were made to love like you and I was made to love like me, so maybe your response to the question will be different. What I do know is by simply asking and being willing to lean into this invitation and challenge you are moving the Kingdom of God forward.

 

Invited

Jesus is always inviting us to something more. In each moment, even the mundane, He reaches out His hand to offer us a spiritual option. He lays on the table abundance, joy, freedom, faith — and how delayed, even dismissive, we are to accept all the goodness that is Him. We stay back in disillusion of the Truth, “You are inviting me?” We let the list of fears lead and prefer the dark comforts of normality then to accept His bold and loving invitation to more. 

Today I will ask, “God, what is your invitation in this moment?” And I will probably look up to see the person standing next to me I didn’t before. 

This is the adventure we’re invited to. 

Morning Song

This is my morning song.

I’ve lived in a state of correction for most of my life. All performers can understand with me the subconscious cycle of perform, wait to be corrected, perform, wait to be corrected. A well intentioned practice aimed for excellency is harmless in itself, but over time has become so innate in the way I live my life that it has revealed itself as quite sabotaging. Growth - physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally - is a beautiful thing, but as anything is unhealthy in excess, so is the mental process of always wanting to be better.

“What can I do to be a better friend?”

“How could I be more effective in my job?” 

“I could have been kinder to them…how should I be more kind?”

All great, reflective questions we should consistently implement into our minds, but not without grace. These type of questions have more often led to shame and anxiety than to peace for me. I had been on a determined path of “being better” while trying to grasp onto the depth of the gospel at the same time. I was a sinner in need of a Savior and a girl who could put on her best outfit and pursue improvement  — no two beliefs could clash more. 

This way of thinking seeped its way into my relationship with God too. Especially when emotions were involved. When I felt negative emotions - sadness, anxiety, fear - I assumed I was doing something wrong. Something needed to be fixed in myself because the freedom and joy I had in Christ that surpassed any type of circumstance was something I knew well. As I attempted to correct my emotions into what I had thought God wanted me to be I had actually been diving head first into a pool of shame. My misperception of God and overly zealous desire to nitpick myself in the name of improvement had made me distant and empty. 

So I gave up. 

Something I think God had been wanting me to do for a long time. I have given up the possibility of perfection, the pursuit of improvement and the pride of mustering up my own strength. And it is like I’ve taken that first deep breath in the morning. This is the freedom and peace I’ve known with my mind for so long, yet had never realized I’d been so far from experiencing. I am more sinful than I dare to believe, and more loved than I could ever hope for - and so are you. (Tim Keller) 

But as I type this out in past tense, don’t believe for a moment it is a struggle of the past. It is here and now - but it’s in my sight by the grace of God. I can see my tendency to micromanage myself and the way I feel, it doesn’t cling so tightly anymore that I can’t even see it.

This fresh layer freedom feels like the first day in the sun after the long winter. It burns more than I expected. I used to watch the news or hear broken stories with an arms distance away to avoid the feelings of pain I thought were wrong. But now I understand that in pain is compassion, and compassionate is what our Father wants us to become since it is more like Him. 

So tonight, I mourn - maybe for the first (real) time ever. I hurt for our world, the people I love and even my own brokenness that will never be “fixed” by my corrections — with no shame. 

I mourn. And I join my Father in doing so. 

I don’t know where you are, but if you resonate I want to give you permission to say that this world sucks. To let yourself feel angry that bombs exist, sad that people are mean to your sister and disappointed that you get in your own way more often than not. Slapping on hope in a disingenuous manner to avoid pain is like the fig leaves in the Garden - it doesn’t cover up the real problem as much as you think. 

God really wants you to come as you are - I know this because he sent his own Son so he could meet you there. 

This place of humility and honesty is a gateway to real hope. In our moments of genuine need and hurt we are in the perfect position to cling onto Him. Letting ourselves feel without correction is a pause in which we get to know our Father more deeply, but it is not a stop in which we sit in. His good, sovereign, loving Truth is yours for the taking despite the way you feel or the events are you. 

In our mourning, there comes a morning - always. 

He is making this world new. He is in control even if it doesn’t look like it. He is growing you, purifying you and in awe of you even when you don’t think so. He is our hope today, always and forever. Hold on tight - this is the freedom we were meant to have all along. 

 


For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. || Philippians 2:13

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners || Romans 5:8

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. || Matthew 11:28

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. || Matthew 5:4

He who was seated on the throne as, “I am making everything new!” || Revelation 21:5

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. || Romans 12:2

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. || Proverbs 3:5

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. || Hebrews 13:8

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame || Genesis 2:25

To Rebuild


This summer season has been one of rebuilding & restoring - the act God does best.

Underneath the pile of routine & to-dos & some disillusions of the truth of my Abba I lost my 'spark' with the closing of the semester. It came out of nowhere really - I had been going through the motions of what a heart-led life should look like, but my heart wasn't actually leading.

My focus was spread thin on the colors of my calendar, rather than the Shephard of my soul so it was as if I simply forgot some things, leaving me feeling stuck and aimlessly wondering where my purpose went.  

I forgot that He made me to walk in wild child freedom & deep compassion for others as I began to taste the predictable lifestyle I had used to be afraid of. I stopped longing to fight for justice because I started to override injustice with "it is what it is" statements. My eyes weren't fixed so I was just floundering. 

But in His grace, my eyes are being rubbed open again. And this time with more wisdom to guide them. It has been in solitude on my knees (which to me means my journal wide open) that my Abba has patiently reminded me who He is and who I am in Him. It has been in the redefining of 'discipline' from a consequence to the medium in which so much goodness derives from that growth occurred.  

He is rebuilding my awe for each day as I see Kingdom work to be done. I am learning that the work He has for us comes from unforced rhythms of grace (Matt. 11:28-30 MSG ) rather than strife. I am remembering to priortitze extravagant acts of small love & to take steps onto the waters of the unknown. To set Jesus as my prize & enjoy the adventure He has made. 

I am made new. I am alive. In His power alone I am ready to walk wherever He calls - and to participate in dance parties of freedom along the way. I know who I am and I want to live in her for all the glory ahead.  

He rebuilds. He restores. He is so worthy. Let us be people who sit at His feet as He has His way in our hearts forever.    

Speak In Daylight


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Speak up. Don't be silent. 

God often speaks to me in themes & phrases - and this has been one of them recently. I feel like it has appeared in  e v e r y t h i n g  I've read. There have been moments with some of my beloved people that I felt like I could have stepped up to speak some bolder Truth into. So maybe that's what God was referencing...?

My relationship with this little blog is weird. Flat out weird - no other way to put it. About two years ago now (woah) I felt a clear call to start writing - which to me was strange in the first place because I never considered myself to be a decently talented writer to begin with. But I began putting pen to paper and curating a blog. I realize now that then God wanted me to write for the sake of knowing Him better even more than to share it.   

Many templates, resurrection announcements and deleted posts later here I am. Just as I don't have to come to Jesus all put together with a mask, I don't have to do in this space either. It was only when Truth smacked me upside the head I've taken notice to the lies that have stopped me from writing in this space. 

 

Some (not so) pretty liars:

-people don't want to know about you

-this is a selfish endeavor

-this will distract you from your own walk with God

-there are enough Christian blogs out there already

-you're not going to help anybody

-no one is going to actually care

-you're just trying to be "somebody"

 

Maybe these lies crept in because I didn't know my why or maybe some of these ugly motivations really did hold a presence in my heart. But when I faced the Truth behind the recent calls to speak up and not be silent I knew it was time to take a step.

.

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs

Matthew 10:27

 

This Truth has changed my perspective on this entire written space. He has set me free! He has whispered in my ear! And what is truly selfish is to hold it in for myself. To keep in the greatest news there ever was and will be. This is not an excuse away from for the real-life, often awkward and tough conversations with real faces. Heck no. This is just an additional space, another rooftop for God to set captives free through one of His children. I am but a vessel.

So here is  y o u r  sign to speak (or write, dance, calculate, create) if you are alive & made new in Christ. We can't stay silent. We must share our stories with pure hearts & fixed eyes. 

 

 

 

 

Creative:

a Love Letter of Longing to 2017:

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I want to sing, dance, play music, write, create, photograph, choreograph, draw (?), find inspiration and take questionable risks this year. Why?

Because I can. Because God is glorified on high in the application of the passions and gifts He has given us. 

To play on repeat: It is not selfish to use what you've been given, it's actually more selfish not to.

Making something out of nothing is one of the greatest mysteries & joys we've been lent. And this year I'm taking advantage of this.

It's time.

What is it about time for you do in 2017? 

 

 

 

 

Thanks

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for wildflowers & birds & sunshine. Thank you for Your creation, & our innate ability to create. Thank You for family. Thank You for brunch & lunch & dinner & the people gathered around their tables. Thank You for coffee. Thank You for pretty little things. Thank You for art & music & dance. Thank You for late nights & early mornings & all the hours in between. Thank You for the comfort of sweatpants & the elegance of a fancy dress. Thank You for stories. Thank You for storytellers. Thank You for health. Thank You for healing. Thank You for Your comfort. Thank You for your unconditional love. Thank You for your patience. Thank You for romance. Thank You for sleepovers & good (and bad) movies. Thank You for formal (but mostly informal) dance parties. Thank You for feelings. Thank You for thoughts. Thank You for freedom. Thank You for your pursuit. Thank You for always hearing me. Thank You for knowing me. Thank You wonder. Thank You for awe. Thank You for stars. Thank You for clean water. Thank You for leading an army. Thank You for your protection. Thank You for the things that we can't explain. Thank you for sisters & brothers. Thank you for a future fueled by hope. Thank you for my future friends. Thank you.

And it goes on.