On love ...
This week I have been thinking a lot about love. It started when I discovered a short film called, “Blind Devotion” by the Jubilee Project. The film opens with a playful, young couple who seem lovingly devoted to one another. Unexpectedly, the wife starts to lose her vision and her frustration over the situation begins to pull apart the couple. She refuses help from her husband and insists on finding a way to maintain her independence. The husband concedes, but finds that he can’t help himself from helping her in ways that she never notices. He quickly pushes a tomato toward her while she gropes along the countertop for it. He follows her to work to ensure that no cars sneak up on her in crosswalks. He sits a few seats away on her bus just to make sure she gets to work safely. And then he tiptoes away once he realizes she is comfortably situated at work. He says that he doesn’t ever want his wife to know how much he does for her because that is how he shows her he loves her – because to him, love is more than just a feeling, it is an action. And for him, love is not about having the recognition for what he does, but just having the privilege of doing the work. That kind of selflessness in a relationship reminded me of the love that God showed us through the life and death of Jesus.
Later I stumbled across this blog post. In it, the author writes what she imagines God would say to working moms. Basically the letter notes all the ways, big and small, that the mom is constantly trying to care for her family while tending to her work. The letter is full of affirmation, especially for the small successes, and in the face of what often feel like failures. As a mom who works outside of the home, I especially appreciated the sentiment. But I imagine God feels that way about all of us, no matter what familial setting we find ourselves in. I know that my single brothers and sisters as well as my friends who have partners but no children find similar ways of loving others – and God notices. God notices because that is the kind of love God hopes that we will show – the same love that God extends to us.
Both the film and the fictional letter got me thinking about two things. First, I found myself thinking about the myriad ways that people love me and I probably never notice. Some are more obvious, but I don’t actively acknowledge them: a short note of encouragement, a phone call, an art project by my child, or help around the house by my husband. But some of the ways I will probably never know: the people who pray for me on a regular basis, the people who fill in gaps that I had not even considered, the people who love my child when I am not around. As I considered the vast possibilities, I was aware of how that vastness pales in comparison to the vastness of God’s love for me. I am humbled beyond words for the ways in which love envelopes me on every side.
The second thing I realized this week is that I could stand to honor the ways in which I show love. Too often I beat myself up for the ways I have not said, “I love you,” enough or I have not written that note I wanted to write or made that call I planned to make. But I began to wonder if instead, I might close each day thinking about the ways I showed love today: tending to the life of the church and the beautiful parishioners I am privileged to pastor; tending to the daily life of my family, even if my temper gets the best of me sometimes (five year olds can be tough!); and tending to the body that God blessed me with, making sure I treat it like the temple that God made it to be. Perhaps if I could capture an appreciation for the ways that I love and the ways that I am loved, I could let go a sense of unworthiness and grab hold of the deep love that God has for me – and then share it.