Love makes the world go round and sometimes it makes me want to hurl.
I was recently thinking about what an amazing life I have and, as I tallied up the reasons, it became clear to me that it’s largely due to one thing; love. I’m loved. My parents, from a young age, taught me that God, my maker and sustainer, loves me with a passionate, unchanging, undying love.
Growing up, I experienced God’s love through the love of my parents, my siblings, and extended family, and through the many church families we knew. In adulthood, God has added a loving, faithful husband, three beautiful children, and dear friends who, despite my quirks and shortcomings, declare and demonstrate their love for me regularly. I’m a blessed woman.
Of course, I always knew this and rested in it, but never marked it until now and the realization has me thinking. Not a day has gone by where I’ve not been loved. I’ve received a steady stream, an uninterrupted infusion, an unlimited supply and yet, and here’s where I cringe, I’m not the most loving person.
One would think being lavished with love would make one loving, but this isn’t so, just as having loads of cash doesn’t make a person generous. Certainly, a child having received love has had love as a way of life modeled for her making it a more natural choice. A child who has only known hate, how can she learn to love?
I do believe having an excess of anything comes with some responsibility and in the end we’ll answer for what we did with what we’re given. You may not believe this, but consider for a moment that it’s true. Would it change the way you live? When we have a surplus, is our first response to share it or is it to close our arms around it, revel in our good fortune, store it up for some future lack, or use it to create more?
We in Canada are surrounded by abundance. Not only materially but the availability of health care gives us one of the highest standards of living in the world. One doesn’t need to visit a third world country to know poverty exists. Watch the news or be brave enough to walk in a seedy area of town. Are we doing anything about it, the poverty in our cities or the devastating poverty across the globe? Or do we just ignore it and assuage those uncomfortable feelings by binge watching Netflix while scarfing down an extra large pizza?
Maybe you’re like me and you don’t have much mula to spare. So, we’re off the hook, right? Wrong. Have we received love and kindness? Are we smart? Have we learned special skills we can use to help others? Can we make a meal, clean house, mow a lawn, or fix things? Can we make people laugh? Do we create art or write literature that causes people to think deeply or feel something profoundly? Will we do what we can?
We’ve been given so much and we’re meant to use these gifts to build each other up in community. We were never meant to be hoarders and if you’ve ever checked out the TV program of the same name, you know what a mess hoarding makes. Is that what we want for our world? In kindergarten, we broke our cookie in half and shared it with the grubby kid next to us and now that we’ve grown up, we’ve collectively morphed into a more stylish version of The Cookie Monster. Where have we gone wrong?
We as a society have been infected by the disease of entitlement. We think we deserve the good things we have because we’re nice people. What is it we truly deserve? We deserve to be paid for the work we do, if that was the agreement. That’s about it, as far as I can tell.
If we believe that we merit all the goodness this world will shower on us and we say this regularly simply on the justification that we’re nice people, what are we saying about the people who live in garbage dumps, the kids with distended bellies, jutting ribs, and sunken eyes, the street walkers, used, abused, and ravaged beyond their years? Did they deserve what they received because of who they are? What about the horrible things that have happened to us? Did we deserve such circumstances or do we cry injustice? Do we cry injustice on the part of our suffering neighbor?
What about the idea that all people deserve respect and kindness? I don’t think we really believe this. We respect those who respect us. We’re kind to those who are kind to us. We give it to those who’ve earned it. Kindness and respect, love, these are gifts, even currency, we choose to bestow or withhold. No matter how beautiful, smart, or good we are, we can’t extract them from others. Imagine these seemingly small gifts, not worth much in today’s economy, being withheld over and over and over. Oh, we don’t have to imagine it. We only have to turn on the TV.
There are those, maybe you’ve spotted one or two, the truly deviant among us, who live life with their arms wide open and their hands un-clenched. They look on the undesirable with love; they respond to the mean-spirited with grace; they give expecting nothing in return. I think it starts with humility, a gentle, sober judgment of self and a merciful, generous view of others. It flows into a great depth of gratitude for that which we don’t deserve, but receive with joy and thanksgiving. It ends in a glorious freedom from the tyranny of want and a letting go, trusting there is more than enough to go around. I’m not there yet, but God is gracious and patient. He’s been massaging my heart. I’ve got lots of love. I better open my hands.
Complete the experience. Listen to Luminate’s Banner of Love.