About love. Not the Hollywood kind of love, but real love.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
About love. Not the Hollywood kind of love, but real love.
The year was 1954. The U.S. Billboard Chart ranked “Little Things Mean a Lot” by Kitty Kallen the #1 song of the year! Laced with simple lyrics about little niceties and endearing smiles, this tune captured the essence of how significant the smallest of gestures can be to the person on the receiving end.
In today’s society however, we are hard-pressed to find people who value simplicity. We have become over-indulgent, materialistic, and self-gratifying. We long to flaunt our success and look impressive, having the finery and luxury that will cause others to envy. We are hurried and at times even frantic people, often going nowhere fast! Sadly, it is not “the little
things” that we value!
In Luke chapter 13: 10-13, we read about a woman who had been bent over by a spirit for 18 years. As I was reading, I was trying to imagine this woman’s circumstance…having only the ground and the dirt as her view. How horrible her walk through life must have been. Then I realized that this has been me so many times in my life. I have allowed satan to have free reign over my mind causing me to drop my head in shame or from a sense of unworthiness. Believing the lies of satan and coming into agreement with him, will only give us a hopeless view of ourselves and our lives. Why do we believe his lies? Why do we choose to give him so much power over us?
We find in the New Testament, Jesus telling the parable of the Good Samaritan and are introduced to the “Golden Rule”. We all know what the Golden Rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, think about that Golden Rule. How quick are we to judge others? How quick are we to gossip about our coworkers? How easy is the temptation to “just not like her”?
Night had already fallen and a sea of black surrounded us as we traveled the familiar roadway. The desert lay still, merely a darkened abyss as we made our way toward home. The night would occasionally be broken by the approach of headlights, a welcomed break from the eerie shroud of darkness all around us. But just as quickly as they appeared, they would again fade out of sight. We watched as they would pass, leaving their glow in the distance and a trace of red tail lights streaming behind in the rear view mirror. Once again darkness would engulf us. At last we crested the final peak of that mountainous roadway. The curtain of night was drawn and dancing in the valley below was a host of shimmering and twinkling lights to welcome us back home.
Do you ever feel exhausted from giving all of yourself to a world that still doesn’t see you as enough? Society has a way of telling women who we should be. They say that unless we are doing more than the woman next to us, we are not doing enough.
I wonder, what is enough? Is being enough…
It’s a concept that has flooded our culture and even my own thought processes and practices. And when I indulge in the $6 coffee or the new cardigan from Old Navy, I sometimes whisper under my breath, “treat yourself.” Because every now and then we should, in fact, treat ourselves. But today, as I sit and watch my youngest climb the furniture and terrorize the puppy, I’m struck with how the occasional Starbucks or frivolous spending does very little to actually propagate loving myself.
My life doesn’t look like I thought it would five years ago. In fact, I wear titles that I never dreamed I’d don. Titles that I’d always judged so harshly in others… assuming they’d done something to deserve the scarlet letter pinned to their chest. And that’s how it feels. Like a giant, red “D” is pasted to my forehead, announcing to the world that my marriage failed. That I am no longer a wife but an ex-wife and my children will now have to explain their parentage using the verbiage of “step” and “half.”
And the shame of it all! Shame that has tried to strangle and disqualify and bind and gag the voice that calls me worthy and beloved.
In James 2:13, the Word tells us that mercy triumphs over judgement. A sentiment I found so very hard to understand several years ago. The idea of God as King and Ruler and Master was so easy to fathom. He breathed the stars. His might evident in every ocean wave. I had even heard it said that God is as merciful as He is just. An idea I would have trumpeted for all the world if I hadn’t encountered the heart of His grace and mercy. Because while I’ve known Him for over half of my life, I’m just now getting to know Him. Knowing Him in the capacity of father and daughter is so much different than that of master and servant.
Please. Hear my heart. God’s mercy and grace is not a license to sin, as discussed in Romans 6:14 and again in Jude 1:4. But if we ever had the ability to earn our way into heaven, I’m certain the cross and all of its violent glory would not have been necessary. And while some might believe that forgiveness simply excuses your sin and releases you from responsibility, I have discovered that love does not simply shore up my iniquity. It invites me into a relationship where to sin against the one I worship not only breaks His heart but mine as well.
And that’s it. This life-altering truth that shifted the way that I saw myself and in turn, others. After all, the greatest commandment was to love each other as we love ourselves.
Sometimes self-love looks like letting yourself off the hook. When Jesus confronted the woman found in adultery, this was His response,
“…I certainly do not condemn you. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.” -Romans 8:11
As far as we know, that’s exactly what she did. And that’s what I’m trying to do. While there was no great iniquity or adultery to speak of in my own case, just miscommunication and little foxes, this crimson letter is still one that tries to define me. But mercy says that the only label I wear is that of “His.” And when the Father looks at me, He doesn’t see my failures or my mess ups, but the perfect blood of Jesus. And if that’s good enough for Him, it’s enough for me too.
So if you were looking for permission, here it is. Treat yourself. Buy the shoes. Wear the lipstick. But more importantly, love yourself. Give mercy her triumph over judgment. Go and sin no more. Dance. Shout. And instead of your scarlet letter, whatever that letter may be, wear the crimson robe of grace and forgiveness.
Trust me. It looks good on you.
Read also: The Judge who paid the price
Do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed with your weekly schedule? I know I do and I often find myself feeling anxious with each task I have to do whether it is running the kids to their practices, after-school events, grocery shopping, birthday parties, and then also squeezing in there being a wife. I am going to share with you my Pastor’s advice,
take a deep breath-More of you God…Exhale-less of me.
I think we are all guilty of having too much of “us” and not enough “Him”. I get it, it is hard, we live in an instant gratification society and we are heavily influenced by the world around us. We have conformed our lifestyles to the way of the world…or at least the way the world wants us to be. Again, too much us and not enough Him.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I have read this scripture hundreds of times, but it just never sticks. What will it take to release those chains of conformity and pick up our cross? Look around, all the ads and articles pertaining to the newest fad diet, best clothing line, or even the most popular rock band—but it is hard to find an advertisement that explains the way God wants us to live, right?
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.”
After reading that scripture, why do we as Christians continue to follow the “hired hand” rather than the good shepherd that gave His life for you and me? I know it is easy to go with the flow and to conform to the society we live in, but do not let it define you, the shepherd, the one who created and owns you is the only one that defines you.
Let’s think for a minute, Jesus left 99 sheep in order to find the 1 lost sheep. We have all felt like that 1 lone sheep, lost and lonely. If it were not for the Father making a way to find the lost sheep, we would all still be that lost and lonely sheep. God promises to never leave our side or call us to a battle that He hasn’t already conquered. During this Easter season, let us remember the battle He fought for us. He loved you so much that He gave up His life so that YOU could have yours. Stop conforming to what the universe expects of you and start transforming into being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Read also: THE TREASURE WITHIN
“We love because He first loved us”
1 John 4:19 is a well-known scripture. But what does this mean? Can we see examples of it in the Bible?
Well, let’s take a look at the life of Mary. The other day when I was in church the preacher shone a new light on the well known Bible story of Martha and Mary. The one where Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and Martha complains that her sister is not helping her. Jesus then said that Mary choose the right thing to do. Often this story is told to give the message that we should not just do works for God but also take time to sit at His feet. And that is definitely true. But this time we took a look closer to the live of Mary.