Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Way They Loved Me //

Can I make a confession? I talk about loving my family and my neighbors, but I don't always do it. Yesterday, I really didn't. We were having a normal day, when my parents got home from work and mom made lists of spring cleaning that each of us needed to accomplish before we leave for vacation. Somewhere between that and gathering together as a family (why is it that a family meeting seems to send a memo to everyone to feel inconvenienced and annoyed?) to view our route to Florida and discuss ideas for our time there, I melted down. It was like out of nowhere these feelings of anger and stress boiled over and not knowing what to do with them I just let them boil over. Now, I've been angry and stressed a lot of times since I was fifteen, but I haven't had a full-blown melt-down (that I can recall) over nothing since then. I'm embarrassed to say that I, as a 20 year old girl, really lost it. Dad steered clear to let me cool off, the kids yelled out warnings when I was around (as if no one else had noticed that I was in a mood), and mom tried to help by asking me what was wrong. It wasn't until then that I realized it was probably just hormones. Instead of saying that, I just started thinking of all the things that could possibly be irritating and stressing me out. Talking it out was not what I needed though so when she pushed for an answer, I spat one back and then put on my super irritated tone to assure her that I knew exactly what she was going to say and so she needn't say it. When she did anyway, I stormed up the stairs shouting back for her to stop. Yes. I did that. It was ugly... and I am so not proud of it. Then I fumed in my room for awhile while I tried to figure out what in the world was wrong with me and how I was ever going to recover from such a childish display. After a few minutes I went back downstairs, I got through most of my to-do list, hugged my siblings, avoided eye contact with my folks and slipped right back into my up-beat, normal (read: sane) tone for the rest of the night and hoped no one would remember what had just happened. Today I apologized to my folks and they forgave me and assured me nothing I could do could make them love me less. That is love. Love endures all things... Even irrational, hormonal outbursts from your adult child? Yeah. Even that. Thank Jesus!

Mom teasingly admitted that she had told the kids she thought about leaving me at home while they went on vacation after my melt-down. And I don't blame her. I would have too. But that isn't love. Recalling the shameful sins I've been forgiven for, that's rejoicing in my iniquity. Love rejoices in the truth. In the lovely. In the praiseworthy. But I am so guilty of rejoicing in the iniquity of others. On a day that I have been easily provoked (also not what love does) by my siblings' behavior and I just really want to give myself a break (because I've had to deal with that provoking behavior for a few hours), even if we've moved on from it, I bring it back up to poke at it. Somehow looking at other people's mistakes makes us feel like we are pretty great. But that is self-seeking -- and selfishness is not love. Love is building up others. Love is forgiving others for the hundredth time. Love is mercy toward others that are afflicted by sin, just like I am. Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Don't focus on the 'why' of loving, let's just soak in the 'what' that love is. In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. 

Sacrifice. Love is a forgetfulness for self, and a 110% care for the blessing of another, regardless of the cost to self. Don't focus on how you're ever going to be able to love like that. Just soak in the unarguable,  everlasting FACT that that is how our God loves us -- every moment. Tantrum, melt-down, stomping-up-the-stairs moments too. Soak that mercy in. Soak that ceaseless forgiveness in. Soak that encouragement in. And herein lies the 'how': No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us! By this we come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we abide (live and remain) in Him and He in us: because He has given (imparted) to us of His [Holy] Spirit. And [besides] we ourselves have seen (have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated) and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son [as the] Savior of the world. Anyone who confesses (acknowledges, owns) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he [abides, lives, makes his home] in God. And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him], because as He is, so are we in this world. 

Abide. Abide in His love -- in Him -- and His love will abide in us. Consider this your invitation (I'm considering it mine) to essentially take a long bubble-bath-soak in the love that God has for you (and for me) every single day, so that you and I CAN love our family and our neighbors. As to the 'why' of love... if you've really been soaking in His love while you've been reading this, you'll already know that the 'how' and the 'why' are wrapped up in each other: Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.

I don't always love like that, and I am not always loved like that. But yesterday, when I was truly unlovable, my family were longsuffering. And that's the way they loved me.

// Bible passage excerpts from 1 Corinthians 13 & 1 John 4, Amplified Version //

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