Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
That phrase "put on love" is something that I can't help thinking about. Like putting on a jacket or a pair of pants, everything should be covered by love. Not covered by our shallow, weak "love" but by God's indwelling, death-breaking, desert-quenching love.
Over and over it is proven to me that my own feeble attempts at love are nothing but shadows of the love that the Dreamer-up-of-love can offer. I fall shamefully short. Gently I am reminded daily to believe the Father's love for me so that I can abide in that, put it on and reach out to the people I rub shoulders with on a regular basis. I am also reminded daily that God delights in using broken vessels to show his heart to a world of idol worshipers, swayed by counterfeit soul satisfaction.
Sometimes I get bogged down due to lack of trust in my Heavenly Father whether it be about my students or my future or you name it. He knows when the sparrows fall and clothes the wild flowers, so I don't really know why I think any worrying I do can add or subtract to his plans. I wish my heart could soak that idea in and believe it. I really feel like the Lord is challenging me as of late. I know that he is calling me to sanity that is only found in himself but that doesn't mean at times my heart isn't profoundly disturbed. The spirit of peace is from God, but I think that as his spirit shifts our way of thinking it can be like pouring water in a jar of dust.
Here's a quote I've been meditating on this week. I appreciate the wise words of the saints who have gone before us.: "Do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel." - Corrie Ten Boom
And here is my to do list:
1. Clean my room 2. Clean my overhead slides 3. Create new seating charts 4. Attend small group leader training 5. Eat a piece of cake and drink some coffee to celebrate the completion of the aforementioned tasks 6. Address some envelops
A few posts ago, I wrote about how I feel as though I am losing a lot of friends due to various circumstances. Through conversation with a dear friend I came to realize that part of the reason I struggle with that so is because I am not trusting that God will provide for me. We've been reading 1 John at church. The very last verse of the book says "Little children, keep yourselves from idols(5:21)." I've been thinking about that a lot. In a book that talks about what love is, why would that be the last verse? John doesn't even say goodbye really. He only abruptly reminds them to keep themselves pure from the love of idols. He does this because he's told them what real love is. I know what real love is, and I know where it's found. I feel like God has been really challenging me to make sure that I'm not trying to put people in the place of him. He's been challenging me to trust him. These next two weeks are going to be really emotional for me because I'm saying goodbye to three dear friends. I've cried a lot lately and I feel lonely even though I still have such a wonderful community of friends around me. I feel really selfish for feeling so sad, and for not being able to just cherish the friendships that are here to stay (at least for this time).
There's another verse that's stood out to me that says "Perfect love casts out fear (4:18)" and I feel like God has just been reminding me that his love is perfect. I don't have to be afraid of losing relationships or people forgetting me or moving on because he will never leave me. I think that's all easier in my brain than in my heart but all that is a work in progress and I feel like so much is still being worked out in my heart.
Growth is so hard for me sometimes, because I so often just want to have arrived. I want to be so much better in my walk with God, but then I remember that God will never let me reach where I want because then I would no longer have a need for him. I am reminded that he's not measuring things the way I am. In fact, he doesn't measure me at all. He just loves me (and you). Perfectly.
But here's what I'm wondering now: How do we love people with our entire hearts and not make them an idol? How do we know if we've made relationships or people an idol? Because I feel like I am good at loving people, but not so good at letting them go. I guess I am still learning how to keep my hands open, and that I will have to continue trusting that God will teach me this.
Every few months I feel as though I write the same thing. God, for years has been challenging me to live "with open hands" (as Henri J.M. Nouwen would put it.)
I have this unshakable sense of loss. as of late. My heart only feels sad. I made a list in my journal the other day of people that I feel like I have lost or am losing to one thing or another. (There were like 8 people on that list.) Life is inconsistent in that way. To me, this period of loss, this journey began on August 1st with the death of my cat Bobbi who I'd had since I was in 4th grade. This was just breaking me in, because on August 18 my Papa lost his fight with cancer. Obviously this was much more serious. When I heard that news, I turned off all the lights and just sat in the dark crying, til a good friend came to find me.
I dealt with loss again, in an entirely different way on October 4 when my roommate's youngest brother died suddenly. This was unlike anything I'd ever experienced and though I hadn't met C. , I cried off and on for days. I even broke down and cried in one of my classes. I still feel at a loss for how to comfort K. as she goes through each day without him.
Those are just the physical deaths of this past year. There are other losses that I've experienced through friendships, and others that are to come. Some of these are still to fresh and painful to share. They take the form of friends moving (on), friends becoming, friends marrying. Even this year Spring Garden, the church I've been a part of since I moved to Greensboro 6 years ago, lost it's pastor.
I can't wait to get to Heaven when I will be able to view relationships rightly and it won't be such a struggle to not hold onto people so fiercely. If only I were so jealous of my relationship with God as I am with people.
I echo Nouwen as I pray "Please help me to open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional love."
I have always had high expectations for myself. When I don't feel as though I am doing a good job, my first thought is that I should just stop. I don't really think of this as a quitter's mentality, because I do things with my whole heart. I have always been my hardest critic. This is one reason I have really struggled with my job lately. I've wondered if I am in the right place. More than anything, I want to do a good job. I once wrote this poem:
Why I Became a Teacher
I am in charge of light bulbs, of fireflies, and small stars
I direct whispers, half wishes and shy smiles
to ignite wild fires.
And that is what I want to do: ignite wild fires in children's hearts and minds. But I've written a new poem:
The power isn't there. Not to inspire, not to love boldly, not to bravely enter their space day in and day out.
I can't remember why this grew here. This dream that is now a half-hearted hope that this matters.
The good thing is that I do know where the power comes from.