|love hand hears by Unsplash|
February is the month devoted to love. Our challenge this month is to consider gifts of love and kindness we’ve received and given.
Being loved and loving—a missing ingredient in many relationships. Perhaps It begins with misunderstanding God’s love. When we don’t know how much God loves us, our love for others can go awry. We misplace our love with other people or things. We can’t forgive. We harbour bitterness. We feel rejected.
On the other hand, loving others is a measure of how much we accept and know His love right to the core of our being.
Over this last month the Lord has been impressing on me what his love means, and to love Him and others more deeply, especially in these areas.
A number of years ago, my path met with a former student. As we chatted, I remembered how I had been unnecessarily angry with him when he was in Grade Two. Now I apologized. He gently put his hand on my arm and said, “I don’t remember. I forgive you.” Gratitude and an overwhelming sense of peace filled me. I realized then how transforming forgiveness can be to another person when I offer it.
The speaker David Jeremiah once said, “Forgiveness is always our turn.” Forgiveness doesn’t diminish what was done, nor does it condone. Nor do we glibly forgive without working through the icebergs of hurt, pain, confusion, and voicelessness. When we take responsibility and forgive, our spirit becomes free to love.
This winter I’ve been praying for a friend who is deeply grieving the deaths of loved ones. The Lord has invited me to enter more into her pain with compassion and empathy. And beyond this, the Lord has impressed on me to open up a tenderness to enter into others’ pain. (For an excellent discussion on compassion, read Alan Anderson’s January blog post here.)
When I visit my nephew Tobi and his family, I’m greeted at the door by kids who hug me and tell me (all at once) about themselves. I feel valued and affirmed.
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, was a breakthrough for me. People, he said, feel valued in five different ways: a touch or hug; words of affirmation and appreciation; meaningful gifts; “acts of service”—having someone do something for them; or quality time and attention. Although the Lord keeps prompting me to give more of my time and availability to others, I’m still very much a work in progress in all of the areas above. In addition, He is inviting me to “launch out” into the unknown, as I both interact and pray for those God places in my path. As I include more of these facets in my writing, others will know Christ’s love for them, and God will be honoured.
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Challenge: Who has graced your life with love, and/or whose life have you graced with love?
Thought: God loves us infinitely more than we can dream or imagine. Demonstrate that love as Paul loved his people: “How much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:8, NLT).