|Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons and Artotem|
Somehow I've been reading a lot lately about love.
God's crazy, insane, earth-shattering love for us.
How Jesus loves us despite our sin and messed-up-ness and unfaithfulness.
How worthy we are because He loves us.
What it looks like to really, truly love another human.
How loving God means serving Him. How serving God is loving Him.
How we can only be truly loved when we take of our masks and let it be the real us that is is loved, not the image we put forward.
It's especially interesting because I'm in a season of learning more of what it means to love others with real love. (Is God trying to get my attention and teach me something? Probably. :P)
To be completely honest, love is something I've never struggled with. From the moment I was born I have been surrounded with people who have shown me real love. Every moment of my life I've known that my family really, truly loved me. I've always accepted that God loved me. God has also given me with dozens of good friends through the years who have shown me love and not given up on me. While I've felt lonely, I've never felt a lack of deep, true love.
But I know so so many people have. And over the past... well, probably year really, God has been teaching me what it means to love with real love, His love, those who may have rarely felt that kind of love before.
And it's as I love that I am getting to experience love through a different lens, from a different angle. I will admit that to my shame I have been guilty of taking the love I have always known for granted. I have never really stopped to appreciate what it has meant to always feel loved and cared for. But God is opening my eyes to how great and powerful real love is when displayed through His people.
I see it in the grateful and slightly surprised look on a friend's face when I give her a shoulder massage.
I realise it when my sweet friend in hospital with anorexia breaks down as her friends who have faithfully visited her smother her in hugs.
It hits me when my friend, tears streaming down his face, says that before last year he'd never had a real friend. And now I am privileged to be that friend to him. I am one of a few who he can be real with, where he can take of that mask and experience genuine love and care. As he shows me the side he usually hides, the pain and brokenness, and I refuse to turn away, I hear in his words and see in his eyes the the wonder and thankfulness that goes beyond language.
Love is crazy!! When we offer it unconditionally, when we let it flow from Christ through us, oh it is then that walls are pulled down, wounds heal, hearts open, lives are changed! It is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and it's power is inexpressible.
That doesn't mean it's easy. It's often not. It's messy. It means listening to hard things and sacrificing time and being there constantly and persevering in Christ's strength even when the other person only drinks it in and doesn't give back, or doesn't thank you, or you feel like you'll collapse if you receive another prayer request.
But ultimately, to be able to love unconditionally with Christ's love, that is one of the greatest privileges I have! It's always, always worth it, and I thank God for showing me what love really is and does as I extend it to thirsty hearts.