Love. Love. Love.
The other night, as the girls scurried upstairs for bath time, me herding them upwards, focused on the end goal (glorious bedtime at last!) I was taken aback by Laura’s little hand reassuring Ellie as they crawled upwards. It may not seem earth shattering to you, but in the context of a typical “I WANT TO BE THE LEADER!” ethos that often saturates that hour of the evening and this stage of development, it washed over me like the unexpected scent of lilacs.
Few things unleash the torrents of joy that can well up, all unexpected, in a mother’s heart as those glimmering moments when her children offer unsolicited, organic gestures of kindness towards each other: the gentle word spoken, the miniature hand extended, the simple solidarity of standing alongside. The most precious of these, and the ones that move my heart most deeply, are the secret ones, the ones that carry no sense of pretense or praise-seeking: the off-camera, overheard, raw acts of love. (And, on the contrary, isn’t it the bickering, the rivalry, the never-ending he-said/she-said, the tattling and the sibling provoking that wearies a mother’s heart like little else? More than workloads and laundry loads, more than sticky floors and cheerio-laden car seats?)
And I wonder, tonight, if it warms the Father’s heart, the way it does mine, when His children live out the love that He is in simple, quiet acts of love, in unseen gestures of kindness towards each other. What joy to offer these tangible acts of love as unseen worship to the One whose love frees and redeems and draws me in! And perhaps this is the fleshing out of the gratitude heart that is growing here?
In my everyday, though, I find I am brimming with excuses to limit the love He desires and commands – full of fear of perception or being taken advantage of, or apprehension that I might not stand on the right side on issues of importance in the changing tides of culture and time. And what wavering ounce of good intention I have left after my barrage of excuses is buried beneath the heavy weights of comparison, competition, and a self-focused life that extinguish the embers of love.
Yet few things are clearer in Scripture. The greatest commandment, in Jesus’ own words: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” In our little world, seasons change. All around us, it seems, lives collapse in cancer, and divorce, and financial ruin and the inconspicuous, quiet numbing of hearts. How do I respond to the pulsing world around me? At the same time, babies are born, and marriage vows mouthed, children chase fireflies and healing happens, and even brokenness and emptiness are fertile ground for repentance, good places to begin again. So how do I respond to the enormity of all the heartache and joy that is life?
Love. Love. Love. Love.
Is it possible that love is always the answer when it is the genuine article? Not cheap grace – thrown around loosely and without thought, but a deep working out of the love germinating in the heart of a Christ-follower. An overflowing of the love being poured into the believer during the knowing Him that is everything. It is messy and anything but formulaic. It grates against my desire to control and strategize my approach towards people and situations, and requires a laying down of all my excuses and all my pride. It seems so simple: to choose the way of love, and yet it’s costly. It calls me to dependence on the One who is love Himself: after all, to bear genuine fruit requires a heart that’s been planted and watered, sunbathed and nurtured and pruned and pinched back.
And I have tasted that fruit, and I am here because of the Christ-lovers who’ve sown love in my life. I am longing for a life that smacks of that love – not just in words scrolling across screens but in the mundane and the close to home. I’m thankful tonight, for that little hand on that little back, and for the currents of love that bring me back broken to the place I belong. The place where Love poured out on a tree, the place where Love rose up again, unhindered and free.
“You cannot do great things in this world, only small things with Great Love.” Mother Theresa