Just Love People

Photo credit: Josh Felise

Photo credit: Josh Felise

Happy Valentines Day! Do you guys celebrate Valentines Day with gifts? Chocolate? Cards? Flowers? Fancy dinner dates? I’ve never been too big on Valentines Day, but I know my social media feeds are full to the brim with heart-shaped everything and lots and lots of pink.

But sometimes I need a reminder that cutesy little valentines and chocolate aren’t what Valentines Day, let alone love, is really about. If our love is limited to buying and exchanging gifts, we’re missing out.

I’ve been thinking about love more lately, mostly because I chose beloved for my word for 2017. Valentines Day serves to remind me in just one more way that loving the people around me is paramount.

Have a posture that is humble and not above or beyond certain tasks. Actions speak so much louder than words. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What if we worried less about saying the right thing or trying to demonstrate our theological knowledge and just tried to simply love people—with no agenda. That is hard to argue with. There are endless opportunities to love people well and serve them, it just takes humility and the courage to be obedient.

– Courtney Bareman

When I don’t know what to do, when I feel lost and purposeless, I come back to what I know is true: people matter more.

People matter more than things.

People matter more than accomplishments.

People matter more than titles.

People matter more than money.

People matter more than the American Dream.

And our people need us to just love them. They don’t need us to solve all their problems, say the “right” thing, or whisk them away to a world where everything is just peachy. They just need to know they’re not alone, they’re cared about, and that at the end of the day, they’re loved just as they are.

What if we remembered that people matter more every day of our lives? What would it look like if we loved people because we believe they are all worth it? What if we loved them with no agenda, loved them just because they are people and they are lovable?

Maybe it looks like sending a friend a hand-written note or thoughtful message, calling your grandparents, doing someone a favor, lending a hand to a friend in need, encouraging a neighbor or coworker, providing meals for someone going through a hard time, or sending someone unexpected flowers (after all, ’tis the season!).

Today, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to remember that no matter what you do or don’t do to celebrate, the thing that matters most is how you love people. Roses or no roses; chocolate or no chocolate.

Have a great Valentines Day!

 

 

Further reading:

You Can Talk About Your Faith Without Being Annoying by Courtney Bareman, Relevant Magazine

 

 

Image source: https://unsplash.com/collections/806/valentines-day?photo=jjj1rHyYyG0

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What I Can Do

Do you ever get tripped up complaining about how things aren’t going the way you want them to? Wishing things could just be different?

I do.

I find myself listing off things that aren’t the way I’d like them to be in a perfect world. But, in case you weren’t already aware, our world isn’t perfect.

And worse, it isn’t at all productive to just sit and stew in the midst of a pity party, feeling sorry for myself because things aren’t being handed to me on silver platters.

I’m trying instead to ask myself a follow-up question. When I begin to think, ‘I wish this was different,’ I probe further to ask, ‘What can I do about that?’

Can I change the situation?

Can I change my expectations?

Can I do something to prevent it from reoccurring?

Can I react better?

Can I put on my big girl pants and just deal?

Asking myself what I can do about a situation is productive. It takes the blame off the shoulders of others and puts the responsibility on mine. But it doesn’t burden me with unnecessary worries about things I can do nothing to change.

Sometimes challenges seem really, really intimidating, and I think I’m incapable of doing anything to make a difference. But when I take a moment to think about it, there are little things I can do to make small differences.

I can’t wipe out hunger, but I can donate money and pack some meals with organizations that serve the hungry.

I can’t magically transform the atmosphere of my workplace, but I can choose to be positive regardless of the negativity around me.

I can’t resolve the refugee crisis, but I can support organizations who are working on it.

I can’t stop child labor, pollution, or animal testing, but I can buy products from companies that are sustainable and responsible.

I can choose love. I can choose hope. I can choose faith, perseverance, and humble service.

There are times when I can’t do much of anything except trust that things will work out. There are times when I can only have faith that God will carry me through, believing that He’s doing something even when I can’t understand it.

My job is just to trust. To trust and do my part to make the world (or at least my little corner of it) a better place. And I do that by living like love, pursuing joy, and having faith through it all that while my abilities are limited, there’s nothing my God cannot do.

 

What are you reminding yourself that you can do today?

 

 

Further reading:

How We Can Love Refugees Today- List of Organizations by Jennie Allen

 

Image source: Kathy Jeffords, The Dreamy Giraffe

Living Like Love

Love is bold, daring, big. It speaks up, steps up, stands strong, extends a hand, gives a voice, humbly serves, and shows others the light.

Love isn’t confined to a particular job description or title, level of management, age, location, gender, language, race, or social construct. It’s the thing we all need, the thing we all crave, the thing that binds us all together. If we let it, love could be the beginning of racial reconciliation, political peace, family stability, crime resolution, and a brighter future for all of us.

Love does things. Right where it is. With whatever it has. Right now. It doesn’t wait. It doesn’t hold off, hoping someone else will step up. It takes the leap. It moves. In big gestures and small, it sheds a light in the darkness.

I’ve been inspired a great deal lately by Bob Goff’s book Love Does and Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love. Both of these have led me to reconsider how I view others, challenge myself to see them the way God sees them, and treat them accordingly by truly loving them. I want my love to be evident to all. After all, that’s how followers of Christ are supposed to be distinguishable, right? If we don’t love, how are we any different from the world around us? How can we accomplish anything without love? We can’t. Nothing else matters if we don’t love well.

 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. -1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

For authoring a blog called “Live like love,” I haven’t been doing such a great job of practicing what I’m preaching. I tend to go through life on autopilot, keeping my eyes on my own little world, walking the path of least resistance. But I’m being called and challenged to more. Regardless of where I am or what I’m doing with my life, I can love those around me. I can make a conscious effort to make love the driving force behind my actions.

I want to really live my life from a position of love, filtering all of life through that lens. Are my words loving? Are my thoughts loving– those about others and those about myself? Are my actions loving? Are my attitudes loving? Is my love evident to others? Am I growing in my love for God, the source of all love, the One who loves me more than I can ever fathom and gave me a great example of love to follow? Am I striving to demonstrate love both to those closest to me and those who are strangers or acquaintances, or do I only love those who love me in return?

These questions and the inspiration from the books I’ve been reading have motivated me to rethink how well I love those around me. They’ve opened my eyes to the dissonance between how I want to live and how I currently live on a day-to-day basis. In seeing that gap, I have found motivation to challenge myself to love better. And I hope that I will only continue to grow in that as I pursue the meaning of living like love.

A Word on Work

Ephesians 6:5-8 – “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6 Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.”

Working wasn’t something I really wanted to begin doing in high school. I wanted to just be a kid and spend my free time however I saw fit. But I realized pretty quickly that if I wanted to pay for activities, clothes, gifts, or save any money for college expenses, I would have to earn more money somehow. And with that, I entered the working world.

Work isn’t an evil thing or a punishment, although many of us often have that point of view. It can be difficult, for sure, and we may endure a season or two of jobs that don’t suit us well, but there is purpose even in those times. Our experiences serve to stretch us, teach us, and grow us into the person we’re meant to be.

We need to realize that we’re called to submit to those in authority over us, to treat them with “deep fear and respect,” no matter how we feel on any particular day. What would it look like for us to truly, deeply respect those we work for, trying to please them in everything we do, even when they’re not watching?  Reminding ourselves that we are to serve our earthly masters “as sincerely as we would serve Christ,” we just might see some changes happen in our workplaces.

If we work diligently, as if we were working for the Lord, not for people, we will likewise turn into more committed, hardworking individuals who are more valuable. Whether we love our jobs or hate them, God has placed each of us in our unique circumstances to serve those around us, being His hands and feet to the world.

In serving others as if we are serving the Lord, we are serving Him, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone. When we realize the amazing gift He gave us in His death, we ought to see our role as servants of others in a whole new light. If we think we’re entitled to be served, we’re in need of a little reality check. We’re all flawed, broken people in need of a Savior. Those of us who have encountered Him have been burdened with the glorious purpose of sharing Him with those we interact with out of gratitude and obedience to Him. Because He loved and served, we love and serve. We can never out-give or out-serve Jesus, the Servant King. Everything we’ve been given is really His, and we’re called to manage it well, which means sharing it with others who need it.

So how can you show respect for your earthly masters as a way of glorifying and serving your Heavenly Master?