This week a group of friends and I were reflecting upon a retreat we recently attended. One gal shared she felt empty when the time was over. Another shared that she felt the speaker was plastic, fake and the message was “forced.” My thoughts instantly were, “Whew, thank goodness I wasn’t the only one…I was beginning to feel like a real turd thinking these thoughts.”
Why? Why did we all walk away from this time feeling unfulfilled?
Because what we heard, though passionate, was lacking the most important thing in life…LOVE.
We can all say we love everyone and everything because we are called to do so. But, (and I say this while wrapping my arms around you in a virtual hug) can you really say that you completely and wholeheartedly are able to do this with every single person you meet? I surely cannot.
We do not have to like the things people do. However, what is very clear in any teaching, is that we must separate the character from the behavior. OUCH!
Oh believe me, I am as guilty as anyone for not liking something someone has done and then have a difficult time separating what they did from who they are…and who are they? Just like me, they are a child of God, one created in his image. JUST. LIKE. ME.
What I needed was a serious shift in perspective after this conversation. The passage below gave me the kick in the fanny I needed at just the right time.
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)
Praise God for His kind and gentle ways…I much prefer this method of teaching over being stuck down by lightening! Anyone agree?
So here is my challenge for myself, and for you as well. Do not try to “say the right thing, do the right thing,” simply because you think that is what it is all about. This will leave us unfulfilled and left to repeat the cycle of contrived unauthentic living. Rather, let us try this.
Approach everyone you meet, every situation as if you are interacting with God. Take a moment to pause and think, “How would I respond if God was on the receiving end of my words, or my actions.” Would you say to Him, “I don’t want to be your friend. Ever. I don’t like you. At all.” Would you, simply throw a dollar His way on the street without a second thought as to His story? Because we are all created in His image, when act this way we do these things to Him directly.
It isn’t relevant whether you LIKE someone, no matter what, we have to LOVE them. Unconditionally. Always.
I believe this is what my friends and I picked up on at this retreat. We felt the empty words of someone who was a very eloquent speaker but in reality does not LOVE AUTHENTICALLY, a creaking rusty gate. I am so thankful the lesson God has taught us with this experience.
We hold each others hearts in our power…Will you strengthen another? Or will you break them?
Love and healing light to you all on your journey.
(Image can be found at: http://www.cuddlycomments.com/view/1283)