Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NLT) 

Living in love is a radical concept. It was radical when Jesus practiced it two thousand years ago; it’s radical when we do it today.

I’ve been a practicing Christian all my life (expect maybe for a few young adult years when I was inactive). So living into last month's commitment to “live in love” should have been easy, right?

Babies love. They don’t know any better. They receive love and they return it. They're accepted and they accept. Only as they grow and face the hard reality that not everyone accepts them and that even the loving ones in their lives don’t accept everyone do these children learn to withhold love.

I like to think of myself as a loving person yet I was not always loving to my ex-husband. Nor have I always treated family or strangers with love. I could blame it on the ways we’re brought up but at some point we’re each responsible for how we live – now. I haven't always been loving. I want to change that. I don’t believe that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. New tricks are what keep us alive.

I’ve been working on this goal for a month, when I remember. Like most new practices, I’ve had successes and missed opportunities. Successes, like when young Fran asked one Sunday morning who my favorite person at church is. "I don't really have a favorite, Fran, but I really like you!"

Missed, like when a man was driving through the park last week calling out, “Happy Mothers Day” to random females. I just nodded and focused on locating the trailhead. Later I remembered seeing someone in the passenger seat. My imagination suggests that maybe the driver was being strangely friendly in order to bring joy to that other person. Is her family too far away? Are they estranged? Is she sick and he was hoping to lift her spirits as the people he greeted shared greetings in return? I’ll never know. But I’d rather err on the side of love next time.

Things like this didn’t used to concern me. If someone gave dreadful service at a restaurant or store, I was bothered. I expected better. I still expect better, but now I expect it of myself. Does she have a sick child? Did his girlfriend just dump him? When I meet each person as a child of God, I don’t need to know their story; I just need to love them.

I’ve been surprised at how easy it is. Sometimes. I hadn’t expected this. I mean I’d been working on Mercy practices as part of my Covenant Discipleship (CD) for three years – finding ways to practice compassion and justice. That was very much a work-in-progress but going okay. Yet I'm finding more success with this “living in love.” What gives? 

The one difference I come up with is motivation. I worked on acts of mercy because I was committed to the CD group idea. Practicing compassion and justice is important – for the ones I practiced on and for my own spiritual growth. While I was in the group, others helped me hold myself accountable. And during our weekly meeting, I could usually come up with a story to describe how I'd practiced each.

No one is helping me to live in love. Well, no one except the Holy. And yet I feel I’m doing ... well. Is it only because I’m being loving simply to be loving, simply to reflect the love God shares with me?

I don’t have answers today but I thought I'd let you know where I was.

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