Loving Love…

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The other day I was reading through a friend’s thread on her Facebook post, and I noticed something I see all the time.  She had made this decision and was pushing head-first into it.  Everyone was pumped and they were encouraging her to do it… except one person.  This individual decided (bravely if you ask me…) to voice her opposite opinion.  She wasn’t judgmental or offensive or anything like that.  She just said she disagreed and explained why.  And the backlash that she received was INCREDIBLE.

It really got me thinking… she was a caring person expressing her disagreement because she truly wanted the best for her friend.  She was willing to go under fire for the sake of bringing something into the light because to her, it was worth it.  It took a lot of guts and she took a lot of hits, mainly focusing on how unloving she was being because she didn’t support my friend’s decision.

Maybe it’s a lot easier for me to notice this because I’m kind of this third party person in this instance, but I actually thought she was the absolute opposite.

I thought she was showing real LOVE.

Have you ever stopped to think about our society’s definition of love?  Have you ever stopped to think about your definition of love?  If not, maybe you should take this second and ponder it queitly in your heart.  Because it matters.  What we believe about love matters because it helps shape our perception of situations.  It helps us define what fits into the category of love and what doesn’t… what’s kind and what’s mean, what’s good and what’s bad.  It helps us pick our friends and our frenemies.  It changes how we see the world.

But here’s the thing, Dear Reader.  Sometimes our glasses need some tweaking.  Sometimes our glasses are tinted and tinged with past experiences and pain.  And sometimes I think we choose to focus solely on the fuzzy aspects of love, forgetting the balance the Bible brings when defining real love in all of its forms!

So I asked myself the question.

Self, what is real LOVE?  To which, my mind and heart replied…

Love is patient and kind.  It does not envy or boast.  It is not rude or prideful or self-seeking.  It is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  It does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects and trusts and hopes.  It always perseveres.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

It’s the most classic, cliche section in the Bible that defines love.  And I think it is beautiful.  But I think we all like to be editors.  We like to pick and choose the aspects of love that are comfortable and nice, and we forget about the other not-so-welcomed characteristics.  We’ll take ‘patience’ and ‘kindness’, but leave ‘not delighting in evil’ at the door.  Coming from a person who is addicted to encouragement, I really wish someone else could show people the harder parts of love…  I’d be so good with that!

But is that real love?  Are we really expressing love to someone if we are afraid to share our hearts with them?  Yes, everything should be shared with grace, but we sometimes forget to include the truth, even when it’s needed the most.

I’m a married person.  That means I get to do all the married stuff, including having the tough conversations.  My husband and I were just talking the other day and I said, “Man babe, I’m sorry.  I used to be so much “gentler” with you.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, I used to not talk about some of the things that bothered me in our relationship and just brought them to God.  I didn’t want to hurt your feelings or offend you, so I just didn’t really say anything.  But now I just bring it all out in the open!”  He looked at me and did this little grin that I’ve come to expect just before he is about to point out something I am oblivious to…

“So you are apologizing for your own growth?”

“Well… no…  I mean… I don’t think am I?”

But I totally was.  You see, sweet friend, Jesus has helped me grow in ways I never thought was possible and part of that has to do with learning how to love like He does.  If He loves me, He won’t just sit there and encourage me if He knows I am doing something that is harmful to my health: mind, body and spirit.  He will gently show me His way and speak His truth over my heart and in His kindness I will turn towards Him.  That does not mean He will just let me walk forward into something that may hurt me because He doesn’t want to offend me.  He will let His voice be known.  And sometimes He uses the words of others’ in our lives to show us His Words of Life, even if we are uncomfortable with them.

Because that is what real love is.  It protects and rejoices with the truth and hopes for the best in our lives.  Love does not mean placating people and just telling them what they want to hear.  Could you imagine if nobody in your entire existence ever challenged you or pushed you towards a different perspective or point of view?  Could you imagine if no one dared to help you overcome that addiction or reach the potential they saw in you, even if you never saw it in yourself?  Could you imagine where you would be if nobody loved you the way Christ loves His beloved?  It would be boring if everyone just told you what you wanted to hear, but more so it would be sad.  Because you wouldn’t grow and you wouldn’t learn and I believe ultimately… you wouldn’t be fulfilled.

We all need to be loved just as we are, but we also need to loved into the person Jesus has made us to be.  I’m not perfect and nobody is, but we need the perfect love of God to transform our hearts and minds.  And that love is encouraging as well as edifying.

My friends, it’s really ok.

It’s ok to disagree and still be close friends.

It’s ok to show someone you care by telling them truth.

It’s ok to come alongside them in their struggles and ask them to come alongside you in return.

It’s ok to be an authentic, loving person who is comfortable with confronting as well as affirming.

All we need is Love.

So let’s make sure it’s the best kind.

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Don’t Be a Not-You

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Okay so I’m pretty obsessed with these Not-You commercials.

If you haven’t had a chance to check one of them out, you should.  I think it’s creative and smart and really drives the point home.  Plus, it will most likely make you smile.  In fact, I’ll post one of them below for you to make it nice and simple 🙂  You’re welcome.

But in all seriousness, these commercials make me think.  Not about buying a house because yeah… MONEY!  But what really sticks out me is this idea of being a Not-You…

A Not-You is someone who may look like you.  You may have various similarities and many of the same likes, but no matter how many (or little) similarities you may have, the fact still remains that they cannot and never will be you.  

I think we humans are prone to many things in life.  There are a lot of positive tendencies, but unfortunately I think comparison and people-pleasing like to float to the top of the list.  We look at others and see what we wish we had.  We see who we wish we could be and what we wish our lives looked like.  And the ironic mystery of it all is the reality that they are doing the same thing when they look at you.  It’s true!  I can almost guarantee it.  It’s so much easier to see the positives in others while simultaneously beating ourselves up for not meeting the standards placed in front of us, whether that’s by ourselves or others.  It’s a game we can never win, and it’s a game that was never meant to be played.

When God made you He never said, “Well I’m going to make you exactly like her” or “This person definitely needs to be cloned so you can be her exact replica.”  Not even close!  He smiled and dreamed of you in His heart and thought of every detail.  He saw who you would become and gave you the potential to change the world all because of the specific gifts and personhood you posses!  He made you uniquely and wonderfully and beautifully in order to guarantee that no one else who has ever walked the face of this planet would be the same as you.  That’s a lot of time and energy and a whole bunch of love all being poured into the process of making YOU!

If we really stop and wrap our minds around the absolute care that went into creating each individual just as they are, we can be sure no one is ever a mistake.  No one is less than anyone else, and every one is worthy of the abundance God has for them.  You are meant to be you and only you.  You are meant to touch the lives of others in a specific way and live your life fully as only you can live it.  And every aspect of your being makes you separate from every one else, and that is a very good, good thing!

My friend, you were made to shine.  You were made to stick out for His goodness and glory.  You were born to be you, so don’t let anyone else try to conform you into their image.  The only person we are meant to look more like every day is Jesus, and that is because He is the definition of grace and truth.  His love is always the answer, and when others look at us, hopefully they will get a glimpse of Him.  But other than that, we need to stop trying to be someone we’re not.

We need to let go of the not-you’s and embrace the reality that we are perfectly made by the God of the Universe.  He doesn’t accidentally make masterpieces.  He made you with a purpose and He made you with divine passion.  And no one can take that away from you.

So please dear reader, don’t be a not-you.  This world needs you too much.

Go ahead.  Be all the YOU you can be!