My mom told me years ago, “Jarrod, love people. I believe we were placed on this earth to love and serve people.”
I think of her words often. And I think God gave me that kind of heart.
Sometimes I want to give that heart back. To love is to risk and get hurt. But what’s the alternative? C.S. Lewis provides the answer:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
But the struggle is real. No matter who you are, scars and wounds from people you loved, and who supposedly loved you, can bleed the love, trust, compassion, patience, right out of you.
What then? Is there a way to stop the bleeding?
There’s the vertical healing: Be filled with the love of Christ.
Then there’s a horizontal path to healing. It’s the part you play. It’s proactive. It’s learning to love again.
Think about it.
Jesus said to love your enemy and love your neighbor. The same word there, love. So obviously he’s not talking about feelings. Who feels love for an enemy?
He speaks of behavior. Action.
You love even when you don’t feel it. And who knows? The feelings may come again.
Either way, you have to love… to love.
Here’s a small step that may get you back in the game…
Over the month of December, I didn’t preach at my church. I took advantage of the opportunity to connect with a variety of people over a meal or coffee to hear their stories.
I found myself holding back tears in many of those conversations. I learned that everyone has a story, pain, and regrets. Yet, to a degree, everyone is a survivor, an overcomer, and victor.
My faith in Christ was strengthened. Compassion and love for people deepened.
Over January and February set social media aside. Set a goal to meet new people and connect with them over a meal or coffee. Or begin with who’s already in your world, such as people you know but barely. Look them in the eye. Hear their stories. Ask questions. Listen. Really listen. Feel. Discover how you might help, serve, and encourage, and love them.
If I, if we, step into 2018 with love before us, we can’t go wrong. After all, loving people is one of the cosmic reasons why you and I were created.
So, in 2018, let us live… and love well.