How to Love Like Jesus Does
Are you ready for February's challenge for The Year of the Lord? Since this is the month of Valentine's Day, the theme is LOVE (but not in the way you think!).
I don't know much about oil drilling, but from the little I do know is the absolute excitement that comes from discovering a new well - as the surveyor throws out a number of of the millions of gallons sitting right below the surface, the property owner stands in dismay at the possibility of so much potential and wealth.
For a long time, I prayed to God for a greater capacity to love, for a stronger faith and more patience. I didn't know how else to get these things and all my human efforts failed miserably - showing me over and over again how inadequate I am at living like Jesus did.
I needed a divine intervention, because to love like the Lord does requires His unconditional kind of love, not the human definition of love. I'm not talking about romantic kind of love, but 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love towards family, friends, strangers and even enemies and people whom society has written off.
Then God showed me, gently and patiently that love has already been poured into my heart. I was ecstatic. A week passed, then two, then a few months, and I still felt the same. I still became easily annoyed with people, I continued to put myself and my ambitions first and foremost and acts of kindness were few and rare in between.
I continued to pray - part in frustration, part a broken plea - for patience, love, and kindness. Still, nothing changed - there were no transformation or big sacrifices in my life. It's like my prayers fell on deaf ears. Have you ever felt that way?
One night, as I kneeled in prayer by my bed, tears soaking the sheets and a heart wrung to pieces by life's struggles, it finally clicked for me:
Love is not in grand gestures or sweet words, love is in the little things - a hug, a listening ear, the last slice of cake, forgiveness, a prayer and a handwritten note just because.
Love is sacrifice of personal dreams, ambitions, needs and wants. Love is putting someone else's needs before your own, every day. Love is being able to feel someone else's pain as if it's your own.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. -John 15:13
This kind of love begins with one selfless act of kindness. Just one.
Like a baby's first step, that one act turns into two, then three - wobbly, awkward, unnatural acts that go against your intuition and all of society's expectations. At first, it feels like you're making a fool of yourself - about to topple over amongst the laughter of the adults around you, but the feeling of freedom and accomplishment prompts you to take another step.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” - Amelia Earhart
Just one act of kindness is a natural high that fuels your soul to keeping giving and loving. Like a fracture in the ground, these first acts expose the infinite gallons of love bottled up in the dark reservoirs of your soul. Like a Texas farmer striking an oil well, the potential is unfathomable.
Love is in your heart right now - bubbling under the surface, ready to bless the lives of dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of lives. Let it wash away all your selfishness and fear and replace it with happiness and sunshine.
How can I accept a limited definable self, when I feel, in me, all possibilities? -Anaïs Nin
Everyone is yearning - to be beloved, to feel connected, held, safe, protected, secure, valued, cared for, seen, understood, appreciated and so much more! Each of us walks through life seeking love and acceptance - sometimes its obvious, other times this need is hidden behind a mask of silliness or indifference.
There is a world out there in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.
There is a song called, "The Hand Song" by Nickel Creek about a boy who wanted to give his mom a gift. He gave her roses, but the thorns left deep wounds on his hands.
He still remembers that night as a child, on his mother's knee. She held him close and she opened her Bible, and quietly started to read. Then seeing a picture of Jesus, he cried out: "Mama he's got some scars just like me!" And he knew it was love, it was what he could understand. He was showing his love, and that's how he hurt his hands.
Be the person to reach a out a hand, to give forgiveness and acceptance. Sometimes, those selfless acts of kindness will hurt - they'll make you scars and might leave scars, but this is where love is found - the sacrifice of oneself.
Here are 28 random acts of kindness (one for everyday of the month!) to tap into your potential of unconditional love:
- The basics: hold a door open, walk an elderly person across the street, offer a ride to someone you know doesn't have transportation at the moment.
- Take an acquaintance out for coffee or lunch (your treat), put the phone away and just listen.
- Join the movement - leave sticky notes with inspiration messages in random places.
- Gather up some toys and drop them off at a local children's home.
- Take some baby items (baby wipes, diapers, onesies) to a local crisis nursery.
- Donate a warm coat, sweaters or jeans to a local homeless shelter.
- Pay for someone's groceries, coffee or lunch.
- Bring flowers to a random patient at the hospital.
- Leave a 100% tip the next time you go out to eat.
- Offer to babysit a family or friend's kid(s) for a night (free of charge!).
- Compliment a stranger - genuinely and openly.
- Place a gift card with an encouraging note on someone's windshield.
- Volunteer at a nursing home (or any organization whose mission is near and dear to your heart).
- Bake cookies (or buy a dozen donuts from a local bakery) and take them into work or drop them off at a local firehouse.
- Write a letter to an old teacher, mentor or friend just to say thank you for believing in you.
- Notice the people most people usually ignore - janitors, security guards, homeless people on the street, the person in the drive-through window....say hello, stop to ask, "How are you today?" with a big smile and a listening ear.
- Sponsor a child or a female business owner in a developing country.
- Forgive someone whose hurt you - that grudge you can't seem to let go of - set it free.
- Pick a time frame - a week or a month - to pray for someone like you pray for yourself. Pray for his/her finances, health, dreams, health, family, spouse.
- Write a love letter.
- Leave a $10 (or $20) bill in a random place (like a library book!).
- Fill an expired, or about to me expired, parking meter.
- One time, stop everything to help someone. Just keep your eyes open and you'll see the need, I promise.
- Donate blood.
- Send someone a gift (a bouquet of flowers or a gift basket) completely anonymously.
- Leave an encouraging comment on a blog you admire, yet doesn't regularly get many visitors.
- Is there a family in your church or neighborhood who you know is struggling right now? Take a box of groceries to leave at their front door, or if you have the money, leave a couple $20's in their mailbox.
- Smile a lot - to everyone you meet, no matter how tired or unhappy you feel.
As you can see, some of these things require money, others just some of your time and attention.
The key is to do everything - no matter how small or simple - with love and sincerity.