"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" Colossians 3:12
Have you ever noticed how when you're really focused on hearing God and focused on learning one of the lessons He's teaching you, you get to actually use it? The devil comes along and says "hey, you're learning about love? Hah, love THIS" and then drops someone or something into your life to stir the pot and try to cause you to, uh, be un-loving.
What I have noticed, especially, is that as I'm figuring things out, as I'm expanding my ideas of love, that I don't just get one instance of trying to love someone who is difficult, I get a whole grab bag of wackadoodles who just need God's love. (Can you see me rolling my eyes here?) (Wait, and now a smile!)
God's love is amazing though and is enough to overcome even the most annoying of situations! And even better, God gives us a whole arsenal of tools to try and use to get that love across. In many cases, patience becomes key. I've certainly been in a season of patience, and do you know, I am to the point where I can actually see the patience! Last night at dance, one of the little girls who plays with Zander asked me about the book I was reading. Well, in no time at all that led to some strange game of her grabbing my book and making up all sorts of games with it- like finding the page I was on when she closed the book. The game session was followed up with her pretending to read stories to me (which went on for a good half hour). Now, it was really cute, and I happen to have a soft spot for this little girl anyway, but I tell you, a year ago? I would have just gotten annoyed. I would have sat there being all sorts of annoyed on the inside, thinking about how I'd just like to get back to reading my book. Instead, I engaged this wacky behavior and played along. I do believe she had a good time, and when she left she had a huge smile on her face. I got to go back to my book eventually anyway, but in the meantime, I was able to show some love to a little girl who may have just needed it at that moment.
Patience and love go hand in hand it seems. I've had several instances lately where someone has told me something about someone else that has made me think twice about that person. While these things have not at all been along the lines of gossip, it's still incredibly interesting to me to step out of the situation and look at it from the outside. Have you ever noticed that when someone casually mentions something about someone else, you start to think the same way about that person? This is where that lesson in patience comes in, and also where love can be applied. Also some physics can be applied as well.
Physics? Oh yes, because when your ears heard Person A say something unsavory about Person B, your brain took that information in as fact. Now your thoughts about Person B include this new nugget of information about them as well. The patience comes into play because you need to call up that patience immediately and not contribute anything else to that thought. It's important to not say anything about Person B that would confirm Person A's point of view. Instead, you need to do the opposite. Maybe think on it, use that patience, and see if there isn't something about Person B that you already knew that would override that information. Then, you need to use physics again and give voice to that second piece of information. You need to share the good stuff you know about Person B, in an effort to plant the same thing into Person A. In fact, if you know more than one something, this is the time to share that as well.
This isn't anything new- in fact, I suspect it goes all the way back to grade school, and trying to say something nice about someone instead of something mean. The lessons we were learning in second grade are even more applicable as adults. And it all comes back to one basic fundamental.
God is a God of love. He loves ALL His children, and as His representatives here on earth, it is our job to love His children for Him.
That person who drives you completely bonkers? Yep. God wants you to love them. God wants you to accept them just as they are, because He does. And He did. God sent Jesus to earth to die just for that person, and it is your job to show that love to them- to love them unconditionally.
I read a fictional book recently that spoke about the idea that when someone accepts Christ as their savior, something in their eyes change. That everyone who has become born again in Jesus, has this same sparkle in their eyes. I like that thought, because something that I've had to learn for myself is that my brothers and sisters in Christ are just that- my brothers and sisters. I love my brothers and sisters unconditionally. We could go through periods of time where we don't see each other in forever, but I will still love them as much every time I see them. The same holds true for the body of Christ- and this is huge! Every woman I see at church on Sunday has the same eyes as me- they are my sisters, and I love each one of them unconditionally. Every man I see at church on Sunday has the same eyes as me- they are my brothers, and I love each one of them unconditionally.
For a while there, I kind of had issues with that idea. I am a happily married woman. Love for a man other than my husband or blood relatives was something that just didn't seem right to me. But then God showed me that the men that He has placed around me are my brothers, and when I started thinking of them in that way- as brothers, be they older or younger, the love was free to come out. When I think further on this, and think about how much I do love my physical brothers and sisters- how awesome is it to think that the body of Christ is one great big family full of my brothers and sisters? When I think of it in those terms, that's just so cool!
God is love. So many churches have problems and troubles because they forget that one basic fact- that God is love, and that we are to love each other. We are to put others needs before our needs and have compassion and kindness with each other. Even something as simple as holding the door for someone is an act of kindness that could have a profound effect on that other person. Smiling and saying hi can be another one. I honestly cannot believe how many people we walk past outside who just walk past us without saying hi and acknowledging that we are on the same patch of sidewalk. Kindness is not creepiness.
And that grab bag of whackadoodles? I get to love 'em all the same too. When I think on them and think on the good things, it's much easier. And then I pray for them. I ask God to bless them, and then when we are together, we have something very easy to discuss to keep the conversation from taking that wacky turn. I can honestly say that I've been praying for them. And maybe we'll actually have a nice discussion- maybe a praise report, or I'll just get some information about something else I could be praying on for them. We simply have to learn to hit the override switch. Satan really doesn't want us to remember that switch is there, but when we purpose to be God's love for Him, and ask God to help us love someone, that switch is flipped, and we'll find ourselves filled with compassion and understanding at the strangest times.
This can go right back to thinking about brothers and sisters. Over our lives, my siblings and I have gotten into some doozy of arguments and misunderstandings and disagreements, but it always comes back to the fact that we love each other. We're stuck with each other, and nothing's going to change that. Ever. When we start thinking of those around us as our brothers and sisters, there's a whole new world of possibilities just waiting there. And when we're looking at someone who is unsaved- who doesn't have our same eyes? Just think- there is an opportunity to gain a new brother or sister. And the whole family will rejoice together when that person joins the family for all eternity.
God is so good.