August 24, 2015

Why Don't We Just DO It?


Photo courtesy of Instagram user, yaro2191

If you follow my personal Facebook page – not the official Melissa Stuff Blog Facebook page, but my own personal page  . . . which would mean that you're my friend and probably already have an idea of how I tick anyway, you know that a certain topic has weighed heavily on my soul for months now.

Post after post, in reflective moments, has centered on love and relationships and honesty. As you can imagine, there's a reason for that. I grew up in a world where there was a lot of truth, or some form of truth, and there was a lot of supposed justice. But many, many times there was a profound lack of love. And I think when you live in a vacuum where real, true love is not the norm, you don't even realize how lacking in love your world is.

Let me pause here and say, that while my family was not perfect, this description was actually not true of my family at all. In fact, I think my first exposure to love that stuck no matter what you did was in my immediate family. But outside of that protective, loving cocoon was a world that didn't even like me a lot of times. It sure didn't like people who looked different, talked different, didn't follow its list of dos and don'ts, or didn't participate in acceptable group behavior as dictated by the ordained leadership. As I became a teenager and looked around, I realized how hurtful that behavior was to so many people. And when I came back from college trying to feel out my own identity and get my feet underneath me as an adult, I personally found myself on the ugly end of that judgment and the snide comments and the vacuum of true love.

For a long time, I allowed those experiences to convince me that God wasn't loving. He was just. He was holy. He was a disciplinarian. But He couldn't be loving. Because the people who taught me about the justice and the holiness and the judgment of God weren't loving. They knew all about God and what He was like and they said that they wanted to be just like Him, so surely He must not be very loving either.

And I walked through life with a wound I didn't even know I had. But not knowing it was there didn't keep it from affecting me and the way I made decisions and the relationship, or lack thereof, that I had with God.

And then somewhere along the way I decided I was going to figure it out for myself. I was going to set aside all the things that I had been taught. All of the dos and don'ts. All of the attributes of God that someone had drilled into my brain. Instead, I wanted to get to know Him for myself. I wanted to read the stories and learn for myself about His choices and His motivations and His approaches. I wanted to walk through life and see what my personal experience was with Him. 


Several years later, I find myself older, hopefully wiser. I know I see life differently. I see a God who is the epitome of I Corinthians 13. Instead of it being a list of behaviors I should hold myself to and condemn myself for not measuring up to, I found it was a list of what my Savior was really like and of how He really saw me and treated me. Eventually that list in I Corinthians became something I wanted to be more like myself. I wanted to treat other people the way I had been treated.

Then came the most confusing part… people I loved and respected and looked up to - people I know love Jesus - thought I was crazy. I suddenly had an influx of opinions on my choices and how many chances I gave people and who I let close to me. There was abundant free advice on who I should cut out of my life and what behavior I should no longer tolerate and the consequences I should mete out for certain behaviors. 


One of the songs that is popular right now has a chorus that says:
Love like I'm not scared.
Give when it's not fair.
Live life for another.
Take time for a brother.
Fight for the weak ones.
Speak out for freedom.
Find faith in the battle.
Stand tall but above it all.
Fix my eyes on you.
Who do you know that loves like they're not scared? Or gives when it's not fair? There's a few who choose to live their lives for others. A select group who takes time for a brother here or there. We love to sing the words, but do we even make an effort to live them?

Please don't misunderstand, I don't have all the answers. All I can say is I try. I try to choose the loving thing. I do my best to give people grace even when it's not fair. My goal is to be a little bit better at it each day. But I fail every day. The people I love and live with day in and day out could tell you how often I fail at this. They could paint a picture for you of just how miserable my execution of this is at times. All I can do is my best each time I have a choice to love no matter what, to forgive even when I feel like shutting the door and walking away, to extend grace and make a peace offering in the face of anger and vilification. And when I fail . . . again . . . I get up and try  . . . again. 

I'm stubborn and independent and, hmmm, maybe feisty is putting it nicely. All traits that I thought were weaknesses - and they most definitely can be - but I sang in worship at Watermark yesterday about how God has a plan and knows the plan for us before we do, and wondered if he didn't make me stubborn, independent and feisty because He was going to call me to do something that would go against the grain, and people I love and trust would tell me I was wrong and I would have to learn to look to Him for the truth and not them. 

Anybody with me? Ready to actually love like we're not scared, give when it's not fair, live life for another, take time for a brother, fight for the weak ones, speak out for freedom, find faith in the battle, stand tall - but above it all - fix our eyes on Him?

Why don't we just DO it, instead of pretending singing about it works just as well?