Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Love Big

So I went to pick up the girls from preschool and their teacher, Miss C, pulled me aside. Again. I always panic a little when this happens. These girls of mine are prone to doing crazy stuff that gets them in trouble that results in me being pulled aside and which creates an "issue" that I then have to address after I've worked all day with teenagers who seem to have lots of "issues." So I'm sure you agree when I say it's not my favorite when I pick up my kids and find I have to deal with more "issues."

I have to remind myself to breathe so my head doesn't straight up spin off my body.

But this time was different.

Miss C told me that Rye shared that she "loves Miss C so so much." And she knows that Miss C loves her "so so much" and Miss C gives her hugs and kisses to show how she loves Rye "so so much." And Rye, in turn, gives Miss C hugs and kisses to show she loves Miss C "so so much." And so they really love each other "so so much."

In addition, Miss C has a new baby grandson who visits often. He's adorable. And Rye is in love with Baby Zachary. And shares this every day: "Mama, I love my Baby Zachary. I got to give him his bottle today and I gave him sweet kisses on his head." And because Rye loves Baby Zachary so abundantly, yesterday, to the astonishment of both his mother and Miss C, apparently Baby Zachary, who's 4 months old, recognized Rye, smiled so big his eyes disappeared, and tried to reciprocate and give back some of those kisses to Rye in his sweet bouncy, baby way.

And Rye just keeps giving away all this love. Freely. Extravagantly. Abundantly.
And as extravagantly as she gives it away, it runs in great rivers right back to her sweet, gentle heart and then gushes over, and if you're standing close, you can't help but be soaked straight to your core in all this loveliness.

Her love is so much bigger than her little 4 1/2 year old body. She doesn't have any baggage to get in the way of big loving. There's no fear and there's no distress. There's only freedom and joy and gladness in her loving.

I wonder when we stop giving away extravagant love?
Is it that first time it returns void...not because something was incomplete about our love,
but because the one we wanted to receive it couldn't? or wouldn't?
Is it that first time it's ignored or rejected or thrown and trampled on?
Is it the second time, the third time?
Is there a statute of limitations on giving away our love?
Is it when that relationship hits a little too close to home or gets just a bit too messy or requires just a bit too much, then we pull back, or we get burned, and you know that saying, once bitten, twice shy....
Is it when it becomes somehow unseemly or awkward to grab a sweet sister and hug her tight, or hold her hand, or wipe her tears away?
Is it because in our heads we're making excuses about time and commitments and margin and again, time?
Is it because we are afraid to show our affection? To offer our care?
Is it because we are afraid of what people might think if we shower love like a spring rainstorm?

Have we stopped to wonder what Jesus might think?

Jesus loves us extravagantly. marvelously. wonderfully. beautifully. abundantly.
I could go on, but I would have to bust out the thesaurus to find the exact-perfect words.
I don't always live like I'm loved like this.
I don't always love others like I'm loved like this.

Rye does. Almost every day.
She's the first one to notice if you're sad.
She's the first one to comfort you if you have a boo-boo,
She's the first one to ask about your bruise or band-aid or scab.
She's the first one to snuggle.
She's the first one to cry big, sad, alligator tears.
She's the first one to give a big kiss and a bigger, tighter hug.
She wakes up and finds someone to snuggle, the husband, K, the dog...someone.
She knows she's loved and she's not afraid to share it, show it, live it.
And sure, sometimes that affection turns ugly, messy, unfortunately so.
But it doesn't stop her from keeping on. Forging on. Hugging on. Loving on.
Rye loves big.

The Bible is filled with people who loved big. Who loved beyond themselves.
Despite the risks. Despite the costs. Despite the mess. 

Anything worth fighting for is going to cost us something. It's always going to cost us when people are in the mix. And people are what He's all about. So loving extravagantly, loving abundantly, loving beyond ourselves is also going to cost us something. Because loving people gets a little bit messy sometimes. I get a little bit messy sometimes. 

Yeah, it's easy to avoid entanglement--To avoid relationships so we can avoid the distress, yes, even the trouble, that relationships will ultimately bring us at one point or another. It's easy to live life numb. Boring, but easy. But that avoidance denies us the opportunity for gladness later on, denies us the opportunity to be used by Jesus, to see Jesus move, so we can come alive. So He can be made alive in us.

Here's a grace: The last time I checked, Jesus specializes in messy--David was a mess, Job was a mess, Saul was a mess, Abraham was a mess, Joseph was a mess. And that list marches on through the ticking of time. Straight down to me. And probably to you.
Jesus redeems messy people.
Jesus loves messy people.
Jesus uses messy people because they know they're a mess.

If I had to have all my ducks in a row before Jesus could love me, use me, save me...well, that would be ugly given my ducks are scattered to the far corners of several galaxies on an hourly basis. I would have no hope.

And yet, my mess is exactly what Jesus loves. Because there's lots of opportunity for Him to do what only He does: Be made perfect in all my weakness for all His glory. 

Jesus commands us to love others. Period. There's no disclaimers or stipulations on that love. He loves us. We love others. All in. All the time. And we know love is mostly a verb so yeah, we're gonna have to carve out time and space in all our busy and crazy and loud to do this Jesus-love thing.

We are called to community, to relationship, to a deep fellowship with others. You can only go deep if you, well, go deep. And I don't know about you, but the deeper I go into my own soul, the messier and stickier and more convoluted I seem to get. It's hard to invite some other poor sister-soul to take that journey with me believing that she would want to travel that crazy road, or more, that she would be safe on that crazy road with me. And yet, that's exactly what we're called to. And deep down, it's what we all crave: to know and to be known.

We're exhorted to accept this abiding invitation to live a deeper life alongside others so we're not traveling separate roads in isolation, but we're traveling them alongside others, intermingling and criss-crossing and weaving tapestries in stories and tears and laughter. We're building bridges between our crazy, criss-crossed roads so when I'm bumped or bruised or weary-worn, you just jaunt on over for a cup of coffee and walk for a bit on my road, sharing the journey with me, and I'll do the same for you. This is gladness and life is so much better this way.

But this is also hard. And scary. Very. Scary.
Because what if you don't like me?
What if how I feel about you isn't how you feel about me?
What if I pour into you all this love and you walk away? Or vice versa?
What if I share my hard with you and you shrug your shoulders and roll your eyes?
What if I risk it all, throw all my chips in, and they're the wrong color?

That's the risk with loving people with an extravagant kind of Jesus-love.
It's a fact that when we love much, it will hurt much. 
And we do it anyway.
Because there's gonna be that day, that person, that heart that feels exactly the same way about you as you do about her. There's gonna be that fullness made complete when all that loving sticks and grows and bears fruit. There's gonna be that celebration for a hard battle won, for a hard road traveled, for a hard heart broken. There's gonna be that moment when all that love floods back, rolling right through us, filling our cups right up to overflowing.

Aren't we all just waiting for someone to take that first step towards us?
We're all just kind of in a holding pattern..waiting for someone else to make the first move, to take the initiative in cultivating a relationship. Someone to indicate that she, maybe, wants to know me. Someone to make that first call. That first text. That first overture. That first invitation. So we're all just waiting. Looking around, looking up to the sky, looking down, avoiding eye contact, waiting.

And you know, next week we'll all still probably be waiting.

So what if we moved first?
What if we asked first, shared first, called first?

What if we loved first?
And we loved big.
And we didn't weigh the risks or calculate the odds. 
And we didn't love to get it back.
And we just went all in. 
And loved big because He loved us big first.

I woke up my sweet Rye this morning.
When I sat on the edge of her bed, she leaned up, grabbed me tight around my neck and pulled me into her so she could bury her nose in my neck.
When she let me go, she walked to her sister and wrapped her arms tight around K and kissed her right on her forehead. Then she went to brush her teeth.

All without a single word. Sometimes, loving big is speechless.

Maybe we should all wake up loving.
And big.

Grace always Rises,

Hey there, I'm linked up today with some lovely ladies: Holley Gerth at Coffee for your HeartMeredith Bernard, and Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory.