It’s been a deeply felt and personal blessing to write here the last couple of months about love. The practice has been holding me to a place of greater willingness to pursue love, its essence, its meat, its life inside of me—to keep myself at the fire of discovering what real love looks like worked out of my life. In the midst of our homeschool’s end-of-year testing and other stressful parts of life this has been golden and stretching.
It’s been a choice to believe over and again that the way I learn to love will be a unique expression of God’s love in this world, that He has something to give, even yet to be created through my life, small like, “Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah”, yet God says, “But you…” to the small. He sees and teaches us to see as we look through His eyes, new every day.
I had to take a bit of break from writing publicly the last couple of weeks and in that time the physical changes of a just-beginning-to-bloom Spring to a lavishly emerald surrounding has brought strength I could inhale. Breathe a little with me?
The choice to believe that this world was not only created once but is in continual creation, hovered over, spoken to and through comes to us so gently it is easy to confuse the invitation for only imitation. Yet as every dedicated artist learns, there’s nothing wrong with imitation. In fact it is essential to study, to learn to release what we know for what we don’t know yet, or in the language of love, “…not insist on its own way”.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:1-7
Wow. This way of love is not for the faint of heart, but it is rather beautiful too.
Love does not insist on its own way. Love listens. Love speaks with vastness enough that invitation is present and patience is palpable. Love urges communication by first ushering us into wide places where finally, after a long night, dawns the sunrise of understanding that we never need to be lonely again. We are not alone! Not ever.
Accompanied by Mercy through much trial and error, up trail and down, we will be nurtured in the way that Love does not insist on its own way, though we so want our own—all that we could imagine would satisfy and fulfill us and all our definitions of what love should look like.
Love transforms breaking into breakthroughs, taking us further than we’d ever traverse on our own, taking us further than only what we can imagine, into a wholeness beyond what we ever imagined.
And this invitation is always here, like the sun, even when we can’t see it. We cannot stop love, but we can choose not to receive it or enjoy it. We can choose our own ways. May God give us strength to follow where Mercy wants to lead.
As I’ve been walking through my own days, I’ve been taking notes, collecting sound bites from conversations with my family and friends, jotting down quotes from books and teachers, maybe you’ll find something useful below for your days. Also, I’d love to hear what you’d add.
What I heard myself saying to my kids: We have to remember that a healthy and growing relationship, a fantastic relationship, is not one devoid of issues and even real heartache, but rather the opposite.
A garden to thrive must encounter uprooting, pruning, change and so too are we meant to persevere when another needs us to understand their perspective, needs, or even pain that appears we are the source of…these things are not the problem, not dealing with it together is the problem, burying it and letting it become bitterness, or resentment, that’s the problem. Yes, this means releasing pride, but that’s good for us.
Relationships they need tension, even misunderstanding, to grow and obtain true understanding. Love is resilient. We learn this resilience by bringing ourselves to the work, not by getting lost in blame or shame in thinking something is wrong because we need to. The problems are not the problem, the problems are our opportunity to really love.
In this way, we can stand with kindness, not a quick temper, even when another blames us—stand with patience, ready when it is our turn to speak, ready to say, “I didn’t mean to hurt you, please forgive me, and teach me how to love you better. This is what I was thinking…what I meant…” Love invites others to learn us, after we have been willing to learn them.
And, what about our destiny as human beings in this world? What about our design and how not to get lost in the daily, the mundane, covered over by crud, worries, fears, heartache…life? How do we live lives of love? My absolute favorite book this year has been Abraham Joshua Heschel’s, God in Search of Man. The book is not about love, but at the same time it’s everything to do with it. Daily I want to share excerpts yet realizing how the whole is so connected, I refrain. Making myself choose only one quote from A.J.H. this week is hard, because it feels incomplete and nearly wrong to separate it from the whole work. So I do not share pieces lightly, but to try to bring a representative snapshot it would have to be this:
“God is One, and His glory is One. And oneness means wholeness, indivisibility. His glory is not partly here and partly there; it is all here and all there. But here now, in this world, the glory is concealed. It becomes revealed in sacred deed, in a sacred moment, in a sacrificial deed…Time is the presence of God in the world. Every moment is His subtle arrival, and man’s task is to be present.”
How well I know the discouragement and the weariness that can come to us in wondering what good bringing our presence to moments can do…when at times it seems the whole world has gone mad and even peace can be hard to find within the shelter of our own homes, our own minds, yet…
“You are not called on to complete the task, yet you are not free to evade it.” said Rabbi Tarfon.
We do not need to carry the weight of all that needs the doing, the healing, the loving…but only our part, today, here, now…the rest is not up to us. What is left but to pray to love, love to love? Even if these things are tainted, incomplete, half-hearted, we fall here upon the Mercy of God, who is strong in our weaknesses. And I do mean fall. I can’t name a single soul I’ve watched learn love who didn’t fall first.
This is where we can learn real love, love that releases insistence upon our own ways, in humility we can learn to hear invitation by imitation, being holy as He is holy…something so beyond what we know, or understand. The way of love is the way of God and the way of God is the way of love. This is good news; we are surrounded, encircled, never alone, found. Amen.
If the way of love seems too difficult right now, I hope you’ll be heartened with this truth with me: for now, we truly are looking into a mirror dimly. It is painful, to not have clear sight, purpose, vision, but let’s keep going because a mystery IS being revealed, and will become clear. It is our destiny, our call onward, releasing childish ways, “growing young” into wholeness, oneness, one moment at a time where we meet the Presence of God, here in time.
Learning with you,
Next in this series: (Part 7) Love is Not Irritable…What?!
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Hello! I’m Raynna, and I’m glad you’re here. The bio pic is of me with my almost-twelve year old and I’m savoring every single time he still wants to plop down on my lap, as well as treasuring all of my days while I get to homeschool my six children (between the ages of 17 and 7) in the staggeringly gorgeous Pacific Northwest. Say hello in the comments and tell me what you are learning about love? Or where you are reading from! I’d enjoy that. If you subscribe to receive my posts in your inbox, and I’ll send you one of my poems to say hello and thank you and I’ll show up about once-a-week at most.
To have a companion in prayer, check out my book, Pray, Like a Woman in Labor here.