The Life of Love
A couple of friends and I cried and laughed during our farewell lunch yesterday as we reminisced about how life and faith have intersected for us. It was a welcome girl's club with our tensions placed upon table, weight of family responsibilities abated for a while, an acceptance of each other's light and grace (qualities we primarily see in each other not ourselves). It's quite easy to love those who are like us.
Today, I looked up love, knowing I need more for those who grate against what I like: my neighbor who storms about her yard space and gossips and critiques and boasts; my daughter who again lashes out with surly moods; an old friend who speaks her mind on her defined righteousness and proclaims sin easily upon others; a personality that's brash .... "We love because he first loved us" says 1 John 4:19. How do we do it? How do we not become twisted up in futility with our own weaknesses in this area? Some people just really bother me at times!
And, thus past child of a more legalistic religion, I can become quite depressed at my lack to do what I'm supposed to do and be about. Paul knew about that. I always remember something Brennan Manning wrote in a book called "Abba's Child" where he says that the negative, dissenting, small-minded, sinful self in each of us needs to be accepted for what it is: a dissenter who struggles and doesn't get it right. He advises us to mercifully bring this part of ourselves into the light of God's care. We have a tendency to dichotomize and war within; but, God wants the unruly submitted to Him also so that we can "Cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly/sisterly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-10
It's an act that takes full submission to fully submit. "You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus," says Galations 3:26 To be able to step out of my own shame and guilt and enjoy being enveloped as a daughter, as I am, just as the people are who bother me, that would be freedom for sure. Fortunately, the following life of faith anticipates positive inner change. Grateful.