I stumbled onto the topic of loving others this week because I feel like I’m doing a pretty poor job of it in my own life.
I wrote in my prayer journal just last week LOVE THESE PEOPLE. And then I proceeded to list about 50 names of people all over the country with whom I have established relationships. (Meaning more than just Facebook.) Some I’ve met only once, some I’ve known my entire life, but regardless, they are names that I should be more active in pursuing.
I know relationships are seasonal, that some of them can be picked up right where they are left off, and that some even thrive without much communication. But I also know that loving people takes more than just thinking nice thoughts about them and putting their names on your prayer list.
I feel guilty. I feel like I pull inward more and more with each passing day. I seek out things I enjoy and that make me comfortable. But I’m not calling, writing, and actively loving the people God has placed in my life. I want to love my neighbors, church friends, girlfriends, blog friends, high school friends, college friends, new friends, Cambodian refugee friends, old colleagues, family friends, family, teens, mentors, mentees… you get the idea.
So to combat my frustration I went on a communication flurry this past weekend. I left phone messages, sent texts, and started creating elaborate e-mails in my mind. I bought a few cards and put them in the mail. But I didn’t actually get to connect with anyone over the phone. We didn’t make it to dinner with friends on Friday or Saturday. I felt like a failure… but I also just felt tired.
Relationships require effort. And I think I often choose easy rather than effort.
And now I sit with a blinking cursor trying to come up with a way to encourage you to love your friends, families, and neighbors. But how do I talk about something when I fail miserably at that very something myself?
After the giant list of names in my journal I made a box on the page and wrote two sentences.
HELP ME, LORD.
I don’t really have much to offer from my side of things. My own wisdom is pretty futile. My side of a conversation is usually selfish. My best efforts fall short of the example set for me. My strength isn’t enough.
But if I do things out of His strength… if I seek to love out of the love that first loved me, and I speak the truth in love, and I pray earnestly, and ask questions, and just care… it’s a start.
I have to remember that just because I fail at something today doesn’t mean I can’t improve tomorrow. Hopefully this wake-up call will serve to re-energize my love for others – those I know and those I haven’t yet met.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
I want to love like that.