What It Means to Love Like He Does

I want to talk about something that's been weighing really heavily on my heart lately, because it's something that I'm 100% guilty of. I was listening to Emerson Eggerichs sermon on the Two Key Ingredients for Successful Relationships for maybe the 5th time (guys it's SO good.) and I had one of those "ohhhhh" moments where I realized that this thing I had heard over and over was speaking directly to me. It wasn't a vague abstract anymore. It was telling me I Was Doing Something Wrong. 

And here's what it is: Nothing anyone does to us gives us the permission to love less like Jesus. 

Let me say that again. 

Nothing anyone does to us GIVES US THE PERMISSION to love LESS LIKE JESUS. 

That is not to say that if you are in an abusive situation to stay in it. In fact, that's something I'll write on later because I fully believe that getting yourself OUT of an abusive relationship is essential. 

No. 

What it means is that nothing anyone does to us gives us the permission to love less like Him, because when we love someone, we Are. Loving. Him. It is a direct reflection of our love for Christ, and to show anything less than that is to say that another human being's negative behavior has any direct effect on the way that we love Him. 

It sounds crazy when you put it like that, but it's true.  We do this all the time, whether it's with friends, family, our significant others, or even perfect strangers. 

Someone is rude to us at the grocery store because we're standing in an isle too long, what do we do? Do we show them the love of Jesus, or do we scoff and mutter something under our breath about "people these days." ? 

A friend that used to be reliable now flakes constantly, and you feel like the relationship is one sided. You get into an argument with your mom over something she said to you in front of boyfriend. Your boyfriend/fiancé/husband doesn't show you the love that you're used to. Maybe he's short tempered with you. Maybe he uses words that he shouldn't. You guys get into a fight and you think "well if he's going to be like this, then I'll show him..." 

No. None of these situations matter. 

I'm going to say it one more time. Nothing ANYONE does gives you PERMISSION to love less like Jesus does. God doesn't command us to love o-n-l-y if someone is showing us the love of Christ first. And this is something that I've been guilty of myself, because it's really easy. It's really easy not to want to show love when you don't feel loved. It's really easy to think "well if THEY loved me then I would love THEM back." But guys, GUYS, that is exactly the issue. We are letting another human being, another completely fallible sinful person -affect- the way we show our love for Christ. 

Someone once said to me, and I remember this vividly because it was such a shattering moment... they said "I'm trying really hard to love you through this." It wasn't said softly, or sadly. It was said in anger, and I felt that to the very core of my being. I didn't feel like they were -trying- to love me. I felt like they were trying to tell me how un-loveable I was. And in that moment, that's exactly how I felt. I felt completely unworthy of love. 

But that is not the case at all. I am loved because HE loves me deeply + fully. The same God who created mountains and fields of poppies. Who spun rubies and painted skies. The same God who has made EVERY BEAUTIFUL THING I have ever taken a picture of MADE ME. And that is where my worth is tethered. That is where I know that I am loved. 

But in this moment I questioned it. I questioned it when what I really should have been questioning was why another person was allowing -anything- to affect their love for Christ, because that's exactly what it was. 

And I'm not saying that it's always easy to love people. It's not. Sometimes they hurt you or let you down. Sometimes they come at you with hurtful words, or even fists. Sometimes they may FEEL hard to love. 

It doesn't matter. 

Because loving Him is EASY. And when we are loving another person, what we are really doing is loving Him. 

We pour out His love. We love other people to their fullest + we encourage them in their worth, with no expectations of receiving anything back, because That's Not What it's About. 

This week I implore you to love like He loves. Love hard + love fully. If someone loves Christ but is not showing that love, do not let the way they treat you affect the way you love them. And if someone doesn't know Him, remember that you may be the only example of His love that they see. Be a good one. 

lessons learned

I warned you when I started this project that I am a terrible blogger. This has been made obvious by my sheer lack of posts since my first one almost 3 months ago. 

It's not that I lack ideas, but rather consistency, and confidence. What do I have to say that someone else hasn't already said, and better? 

In all honesty, the answer is nothing, and that's okay. Just because everything has already been said doesn't mean everything has been heard. We all learn and understand differently. Our understanding is colored by our past experiences after all. When we form a memory, it's more or less an impression of what we thought happened in any given situation. It isn't necessarily truth, but it's our truth. 

So here is my truth, or at least, here is my truth as of right now. 

This week I turned twenty two. (Cue Taylor swift singing in the background.) 

My birthday has always been a source of more than a little melancholy for me. I haven't had a party since I was seven, partially because I don't like large groups or being the center of attention, but mostly because trying to figure out who to invite always brings up the inevitable question "who would be hurt if they weren't invited?" Because I was always that kid, and I never wanted to make anyone else feel that way. I still don't. 

The night before my birthday, or sometimes even the day of, I always find myself analyzing the previous year. Looking back at all of the highs and lows. Trying to figure out if I've come out in the positive. If I can check the year off as a  a success. 

I'm going to be totally honest here. I hate that mentality. I hate the idea of taking 525,600 minutes and lumping them together into one giant question mark. Because as much as we may try sometimes, life is never so black and white. It is as diverse and vast as the shifting planet we call home. 

This year, I turned twenty two.

This year, I grew closer to Jesus. I learned what it truly means to be a Christian, and to love others as He loves us. To have grace with people, and myself. Some days, I still fail at that miserably. But I'm here. I'm trying. 

This year, I met the love of my life. The man who will one day soon be my husband. The man who loves me so well and so fully. Who has seen me at my worst and my weakest and has loved me even harder in those moments. 

This year I felt the world shift. I lost my footing. I took on too much too quickly, because I thought, surely if I'm doing all of this, then they'll be proud. I don't know who I was trying to please. I don't know why I was trying to prove myself so adamantly when no one was questioning my validity. But I did, none the less. I took on so much work that I completely lost myself, and any sense of quiet reflection I once had. 

This year I disappointed a lot of people. And I'm sorry. I've always been a people pleaser. A "yes man." And so often, overcommitting means under delivering. And saying "yes" to something or someone I shouldn't have was the same as saying no to something I really should have been doing. I know that now, but it's still something I'm learning how to do each day. 

This year I learned what it means to put all my hope in Him. I learned, because I wasn't. I was going to Him, sure. But 95 percent of the time it was because I needed something. Because I was realizing my weakness and breaking down. I kept getting to a point where I was so broken that I knew I couldn't do it without Him, and in those moments I would cling to Him -which is great- but as soon as things were going smoothly again, I would forget. I understand fully now how important it is to come to Him in our strength as well as our weakness, and with grateful hearts. We have to come to Him constantly and consistently, not just when life gives us more than we can handle alone. 

This year I learned how to take deep breaths. How to be calm in the face of chaos. How to lift all my stress, and sadness, and frustration up to Him. And to trust that He is in control, and His plan is so much sweeter than mine, even if I can't see it. Especially then. 

This year I learned. And I learned, and I learned. That's all it comes down to really, is learning. 

This year I turned twenty two. And if I'm being totally honest, it was really bittersweet.

Here's the thing though. I could sit here with my clipboard, making mental tally marks. Good. Bad. Good. Good. Bad. I've done it a hundred times. It would be so easy, but to do so would be to say that I have regrets. That there are things I wish I could take back and do differently. And as much as I'm ending the year with a couple more (metaphoric) bruises than I'd like, and a lot of hard lessons under my belt, I am so gosh darn grateful for where I am now. And that's what really matters. 

Our lives aren't a series of tallies on a page, or even a separated list of successes and failures. We are all flesh and feeling. Imperfect skin pulled over bones that carry our entire history, created by the maker of the universe. Let us rejoice in that; in knowing how deeply and how fully we are loved. 

This year my goal is to be a little more grateful. 

Okay a lot more grateful. 

Who's with me?

here goes nothing

I am messy with sentiment. It clings to my skin like ash. It litters my floor in piles of salty words like "before" and "maybe."

There is an ocean of regret inside my stomach and most days it bubbles out of my mouth like soap. I am trying to be okay with the fact that every inch of my skin is a poem to all the ones who didn't stay. 

I did not grow up in the church. I did not grow up being taught that loving -things- too much makes you a sinner. (Would I shudder so much at the idea of a capsule wardrobe if I had?) 

But I also didn't grow up understanding grace; the way He loves us so sweetly, even through our brokenness. I didn't believe that I was good enough for Him to love me, and while now I know that I will never -be- good enough, I also know that He loves me through my messy imperfection. He loves me with a kind of love that only He is capable of. 

It is that love that has brought me here to write to all of you, because I did not grow up in the church. 

I feel like I need to confess something here first: I am a terrible blogger. 

This is my third, maybe fourth attempt at blogging. I always inevitably decide that my idea, while pretty in theory, has no real substance. I've never known exactly what I want to say, or rather, what someone hasn't already said before, and better. Or at least, until now. 

Because I didn't grow up in the church, I didn't cling to him in all my grief and anguish and struggle. I didn't know. I didn't understand how beautiful His grace is, and how fiercely He loves us, despite our "not being good enough."

And its okay that I didn't grow up in the church, because I found Him. I am His now, and seeking Him fervently, adamantly, ceaselessly is all that matters. 

More than a year ago at my first Yellow Conference, a speaker said something which has altered me forever. She said "vulnerability doesn't make you weak, it makes you accessible." 

Accessible. That what I'm trying to be now. Accessible in all my messy imperfection. 

I am still learning how to be a good Christian; to love others as He loves us. I am still striving to be a better daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, and mentor. None of these are easy things. 

I am still learning how to navigate the aesthetic of heartbeats. 

I promise, I'm trying. 

Bear with me.