“Let your love be sincere (a real thing)…Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family), giving precedence and showing honor to one another.” Romans 12:9-10 (parts not included)
I have mentioned before that I struggle a lot with this whole love thing. I know, I know. It’s the biggest and greatest commandment God gives in the Bible. It’s also the very fruit He says that we can determine whether or not we know Him, since God is love and therefore love comes from Him.
Within myself, I’m just not very good at it.
Thankfully, I’m learning that is actually the point.
When we attempt to muster up fruit on our own, we will always be found lacking. It is only by God’s grace- specifically through His Spirit, that we are able to love at all. Now, I’m not talking about love the way the world would define it. The world defines love as give and take. It would tell you that love is a feeling.
This is not the love I speak of.
The kind of love that is the very nature of God is a love that knows no bounds. It is patient, it is kind, it keeps no record of wrongs, it is not self-seeking- and it puts genuine concern for the person in front of me, no matter who they are, over myself.
“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”- 1 John 4:12
As I have been working on another book, so much of my writing energy has gone toward those efforts. I have not intentionally been silent over here; I just know that in the wee morning hours (my early dawn time with the Lord), He has called me to focus on that above all other writing. God is absolutely rocking my world as He is teaching me a lot about the Holy Spirit and how little I understand about so many things. He is uprooting so many preconceived, cultural-induced concepts of prayer I have had- and I cannot wait to share them with you all. It has been a season of growth and learning for sure.
So, back to this whole love thing.
Our girls are such a gift. If you have ever been around them, you know that this is not just a shallow cliché. There really is something about them that just exudes joy. God is teaching me so many things through their lives- chapters and chapters of lessons- but lately, He is bringing my awareness to how caring for and parenting our girls isn’t just about our family or Ally and Bailey Grace. When God entrusted our girls to us, He was giving us some clear wisdom on how to love the people in front of and around us. As I said before, I desperately need this. Today, I wanted to just touch on a few things I feel God wants us to take away from the girls’ lives.
1. See the best in people.
We always talk about how happy the girls are, how easy they are to love- but the truth is, if I’m honest, it doesn’t always feel this way. Lack of being able to communicate can leave them frustrated at times; lack of full rest (we have been told they never enter in REM sleep-like, ever) can leave them grumpy at points. Yet, somehow, it is much easier to fixate on the joy they bring rather than the challenges that can present themselves. We could all use this mentality more.
2. Be patient with others.
We have been working on the same skills for three years. Truly. Day in and day out, we have been attempting to help the girls do seemingly simple things like sitting, babbling, clapping, waving. Sure, we have reached a level of acceptance that causes us to not fixate on performance (a whole new topic); yet, you have to spend your moments doing something. (Besides the daily and often cuddling and tickling and giggling and kicking). At one point, Ally began clapping. For whatever reason, she has lost this skill. Yet, we continue to encourage her that, “She can do it”. Think about this level of patience for your fellow human beings. Do we spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, YEARS patiently loving people through growth? I know that often, my patience for people to “get it together” is lacking. We must be patient with the process and trust what God is doing in the lives of those around us.
3. Accept as is- mess and all.
This sort of goes along with the patient thing. Vomit and seizures are a daily part of our life. Cleaning up throw-up and watching my child’s brain misfire has become a normal thing in our house. Do I enjoy it ? Of course not. Is it any less painful each and every time? No. Yet, it is a part of the privilege of loving our girls and so I have determined it is worth it. Each of us has our own junk. There are going to be qualities or traits or habits or just specific health issues that aren’t pleasant in each and every person we come in contact with. We could focus on the mess or we could see the soul behind it all.
4. It is okay to not smile when you are in pain.
Bailey Grace and Ally smile a lot. Like, a whole lot. Yet, when they are hurting- they are not afraid to express their pain. When the girls get “just a cold” (again, another topic), they spend hours screaming and crying and looking miserable. I do not expect them to do anything else. In the church in particular, I think we do a horrible job of equating joy with happiness. We seem to think it’s the holier option to put on a happy face. Yet, Christ wept. He mourned. And, time and time again in the Word of God, there are examples of people who not only felt pain but expressed it (think David, Job, and so many others). We have got to stop being uncomfortable with others’ pain and simply allow them to express it. You don’t have to put on a happy face! The Body of Christ is a community in which we should have the freedom to experience all the emotions this human life brings- yet, rejoice in the fact that our faith and our hope is infinitely greater than our feelings.
5. Put others WANTS before your own.
Aly and Bailey Grace love making high pitched sounds. They enjoy kicking their legs and listening to music and laughing about the same things over and over and over. I want them to like the movie theater, or birthday parties, or restaurants more- but in reality, they appreciate and like the simple things much more. Because we love them, we choose to spend a lot of time doing these things instead of doing what “typical” families are doing. Why don’t I have this same attitude with those around me? This one has been a doozy for me. My expectations and my sense of entitlement is high. I wouldn’t word it this way, but on a pretty much daily basis, I fight the desire to think the world should revolve around me. God teaches us to humble ourselves and, “Do nothing from selfish ambition…but instead, consider others more significant than yourself” (Philippians 2:3). This is HARD and can only be done by the Spirit of God within.
Time is lacking, yet I hope these have been some great tidbits to chew on today as you attempt to love (other) fellow (imperfect) human beings around you. May we see the best in one another; may we be patient with each other, accept one another as is, put others’ wants before our own, and never expect our loved ones (or ourselves) to smile in the hard. By the grace of God, may we learn to love with the fruit only God Himself provides.
He is faithful.
In all things.
At all times.
No matter what.
To Him be the glory.