Loving my children is easy. I didn’t say that parenting my children is easy, far from it, but LOVING them is like breathing- it is essential to my life and effortless. The moment I found out I was pregnant with each of them it seemed that my capacity to love multiplied. When they were born, in that instant I knew that the love I had for them was limitless. Loving them is easy.
Yet even as I write those words, I can in the same stroke say that loving my children is one of the hardest things to do as well. My heart is overfull with love, but expressing that love in actions that empower them, encourage them, direct them, and accept them is extraordinarily challenging. There hasn’t been a moment in any day since I have become a mother that I haven’t excelled at the deep unconditional love element— but there have been countless moments of each of those days that I have missed the mark on the perfect embodiment of that love. It is easy to get overwhelmed when messes are abundant, shoes are always misplaced, whining is at an all time high, and tantrums seem to be never ending. In the midst of all of that chaos it is hard to consciously choose actions that convey love instead of frustration. The words for 1 Corinthians 14:1 offer grace and inspiration, “Strive to Love.” The word choice of “strive” acknowledges the challenge that embodying love can be at times.
The struggle is real with other people as well. When I am face to face with a person and hear their story, the connection and blessing that we share is an embodiment of love. But it is so easy to allow those opportunities to pass us by. It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind we call life— laundry lists, places to be, items to pick up, work to be done— and to forget that on any given day we are face to face with countless of individual people that we are called to love. Fred Rogers reminds us of what that love looks like when he says, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Again with the word “strive.”
It is easy to instruct people to love their neighbors, it is honest to acknowledge that to do so is hard. It requires courage, strength, patience, and a willingness to fail over and over in effort to slowly embody a love that more closely mirrors that of Gods love for each of us. On Sunday mornings in worship, I say these words (or something close to them) after our prayer of confession, “Friends the Good News of the gospel is that even in the midst of our sin, even when we turn our backs on God, God never turns his back on us. Instead God meets us right where we are and welcomes us into God’s family. So live as the children of God!” As we strive to love others and accept them as they are in this moment, we are following God’s lead.
I hope that you know you are welcome at First Presbyterian just as you are. There is no need to hide your flaws or pretend to be something you are not. We only ask that you join us in our efforts as we strive to love God and our neighbors.
So what’s all this about simplicity and spirituality? Find out more about the origins and purpose of this blog here.