Good morning, gang-
Come on in! Toss your coat and gloves on the chair and rinse out your cup; I have a special treat this morning, since it’s hovering just above freezing. I made us a special brew in my French press. Mm-MMM. Here–let me pour . . .
Zig Ziglar observed that “Peak performance is dependent on passion, grit, determination, and a willingness to do something poorly until you can do it well.” That being the case, we all ought to be world-class, championship lovers by now.
I’m not talking about sex. One of the most power-filled statements ever is, “I love you.” One of the most heinous errors ever is allowing ourselves to be programmed by popular media as to what that statement actually means.
‘Love’ has been the subject of such relentless abuse that trying to define it to normal folks’ satisfaction is like trying to keep a 7th-grade soccer team fed. The popularity of social media like Twitter and Facebook and their younger kin is only playing into the hands of personally-awkward young humans who’d much rather stand side-by-side texting one another instead of looking each other in the eye and going, like, “Um, hi”. Sad, isn’t it, that we adults have been lazy and learned that same impudent, impersonal rudeness from them instead of having the courage to yank their self-absorbed, cheapened, often-snotty, low-rate social expectations and habits back up where they belong?
Hollyweird and the ‘Net has messed with our minds about this ‘love’ deal. Seriously messed with our hearts, too. On June 15, 1993 Tina Turner first asked the pertinent question when her hit release, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” stormed the airwaves.
Fair question. ‘Love’ gets tossed around in ways its Originator never intended. Could it be we’re all trying to update LOVE at the same feverish pace we do our electronics? Human relationships don’t work that way. Love is a matter of one’s will and touches every part of the human spirit/mind/body. Treating one anothers’ feelings as things we can discard like a cheap cell phone is a colossally bad thing.
Friend, this life experience is comprised, with one trifling exception, of others. People. Individuals. Dig this: you are absolutely unique, a one-off, bust-the-mold, true-blue YOU. All the rest of us are like that, too. Completely, totally, wonderfully and singularly ONE.
Shouldn’t it mean something special, then, when ONE of us says to another ONE of us, “Love you”? Don’t we all need to work at refining, redefining LOVE by living it so our little ones can SEE what LOVE is? Hmm. How? Where?
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives His best–the sun to warm and the rain to nourish–to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is Grow up. You’re Kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. . . . Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure–‘playactors’ I call them–treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it–quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” (Matthew 5:43-6:4)
“Wait. You expect that level of authenticity of me?”
Ah, no. That would be God. I’m just passing it along.
Nope. Nothing simple about loving the unlovable. I’ve been that, and though it doesn’t happen quite enough, I’ve had somebody reach through the barbed wire and minefields of my distrust and spite – maybe even hatred – and love the stuffin’ out of me anyway.
It shamed me. As a kid I fantasized about my specialness, the deep-breathing awesomeness of my me-ness. Immensely convinced of my own importance . . . . Turns out every other hominid beating feet on this planet is equally, mysteriously special. Yup. Just as multi-layered and -faceted as me.
Well, nuts. Major rethinking effort. There’s no special drama about being me. Hate that. And along in there someplace came this quote: “Nobody worth knowing is easily known.” Huh. It’s all of us, and not just me. Which is why I have lots of acquaintances and only a few real friends.
Uh-hunh. You, too.
That’s why we all sound petulant when whining about nobody understanding what we’re going through. Turns out it’s pretty much true. God’s about it. The ONLY way anybody else can understand is for YOU to tell them YOURSELF. The old, “Well, if YOU don’t know, I’m sure not gonna tell you” thing just doesn’t play well.
That calls for loving them enough to let them love you enough for you both to lower the shields and stop pretending you’re immovable, titanium-tough and don’t need each other.
Yes. You do. People distrust, perhaps even begin to hate what they don’t understand and is unfamiliar. Many a decent, able, equipped, talented person has been unconsciously shunned and frozen out of whatever social setting you can imagine when that person’s only ‘sin’ was being new.
You and I both have seen this in play, haven’t we? How many sports teams, employers, churches and families have been the losers because real talent got repeatedly ignored, talked about and frozen out? How many friendships?
Well. We must start somewhere. Here’s your challenge for the week: have the courage in any social setting to learn to play STACK THE PHONES. When you sit down around the table to eat, everyone stacks their cell phones face-down in the middle of the table. First one who has to check their phone pays the bill. You’re grinning like a mule eating blackberries, aren’t you?
Truth: we all need to recognize a double reality. Class, courtesy, manners, cleanliness, social skills and LOVE in its highest, noblest form seem to be receding almost as fast as technology is advancing. When they’re kids they can perhaps be excused due to poor upbringing, negative examples, etc. But once they’ve graduated high school they assume personal responsibility for their own habits, deportment, hygiene, work ethic and interpersonal relationships. The saddest thing to see, especially around Valentine’s Day, is an adult-year-old still acting like a spoiled brat and expecting others to understand and put up with it.
Know what, guys? Real women still appreciate and tend to fall in love with gentlemen. And gals? The guys worth finding still appreciate and tend to fall in love with women who understand how to be a lady.
We all need to get back to work!
I love you and I believe in you,