Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the unlikely place where love is found

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else?
I never do that.

That's a lie.

I've compared myself to others and come out on top.
I've compared myself to others and come out on the bottom.
And I've landed everywhere in between.

It's a slow and painful death to our spirits.

Comparison kills.
We can remind ourselves that it's wrong to judge someone else, but that's not really the problem is it?
The problem isn't in how we see them.  It's in how we see us.

For much of my life I didn't fully see my own neediness and depravity.  I thought I was a pretty 'good' person, and yet I still felt disappointed in myself over and over again.

Dallas Willard says it this way -
...we have not truly beheld our own ruined condition, and because of this we cannot heartily love that other person.

Ruined - having suffered much damage or disintegration.

Could my lack of love towards others really be rooted in my lack of self-awareness?

Sometimes people get on my nerves.
Sometimes I get mad
or frustrated
or jealous
or bitter
or impatient
or maybe all of the above.

When my thoughts and actions toward someone else are anything but love I have to ask myself - have I forgotten my own sorry, ruined, unworthy-of-love condition?  And if not, how can I explain my own complete love and acceptance by a perfect God?

Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. 

And so this is me telling you - I'm a beggar.  I bet you are too.
No matter how successful and strong we appear on the outside, we can be poor and helpless on the inside.  But there is bread - plenty of bread, plenty of nourishment for our hungry souls.

Sometimes when I eat the bread of life I feel so full and free that I forget - I'm still a beggar.
I didn't earn that fullness and freedom.  It was given to me.  Because I am loved, I don't have to work for it, I just have to accept it.

In this truth we find a strange reality - that we are both highly treasured and utterly helpless all at once.
At the intersection of treasured and helpless I find life.  And I find love.

Love is not a feeling we conjure but an act we commit to.  The first step of loving is giving attention - seeing and hearing and honoring.  If our attention is primarily focused on ourselves,
our own circumstances,
our own highs and lows,
our own needs and wants,
we are at risk of being completely void of love.  When our attention is turned inward more than outward our love fizzles out and dies.  When it is turned outward it gains wings to fly.

So often I make it more complicated than it really is.

The simple truth is this -
I am ruined.
I am a beggar.
But I am loved...
and I love you.
Not because you have done anything to earn or keep my love but because it is my choice.
I choose to remember that we are not that different - you and I.
I choose to see us both as treasured and helpless.
I choose love.
Some days I choose something else, something lesser, first, but always I pray desperately that I will land on love.

So let's sit at the table together,
grasp hands,
and offer thanks
to the One who daily feeds us a feast beyond anything we could ever prepare for ourselves,
because of love.