Monday, June 21, 2010

:: love extravagantly ::


"No matter what I say, what I believe, or what I do, I am bankrupt without love." - The Message

I decided to clean my kitchen today.  Like, REALLY clean...declutter, go through my two (yes...sigh...two) junk drawers.  I came across a necklace, knotted, twisted and messy - that Ryan had gotten for me for my birthday a couple of years ago.  I recalled coming across it several times during the last two years, fumbling around with it, unable to ease the little knots and untwist the delicate silver chain.  I would toss it back into the drawer in frustration, leaving it for another time.  

I picked it up again today and challenged myself to get it finally untangled.  As I leaned my elbows on the kitchen counter, weaving the tiny strings in and out and around and back again like a little puzzle, my mind began to wander.

We have a great aunt dying from cancer.
We have financial stress.
We have marital stress.
We have the solemn duty of raising 3 beautiful children.
We struggle with how to raise healthy, well-adjusted children.
We have extended family stresses.
We have friends who desperately wish to be parents.
We have friends who are struggling in their finances, marriages, LIFE.
We know people who need jobs.
We have church-related stresses.
We have personal struggles...struggles with self.
We're tired.
I'm tangled.  Little knots here, little knots and twists there.
It got me thinking about the people in my life and the stresses we're all encountering these days.  And how I don't think I'd be able to get through my stresses and disappointments without my friends...family.  It made me thankful for them.  And I wondered...do they know?

What is family?  The meaning of the word has changed a lot for me since I left home when I was 18.  Off to a new state, new town, living with extended family and away from immediate family.  Sure, my family is my family.  They always will be.  But what about others?  Some that may not be blood-related, but are as near and dear to my heart.  Can't they be my family too?  What makes them so?

Family and friendships can be so closely intertwined for me.  Here's what I know about my family - blood related and non-blood related:  I know them, they know me.  They're the ones I can call in the dead of night or in any emergency.  In times of tragedy, success, and boredom, their cell numbers are the ones my fingers fly to.  We screw up sometimes - gosh, do we ever screw up.  We call each other out.  We make stupid decisions.  Big mistakes.  We hurt each other.  But we don't condemn.  We rush in and help.  Support.  Lift up.  Carry.  Encourage.  We let go...of grudges, past hurts and wounds.  We apologize.  We forgive.  And we forget.  We take on....hurts, sorrows, burdens...we lighten the load.  We laugh together and at each other.  We cry together when one of us hurts.  We pray.  We hope together and for each other.  We share.  We dine.  We Give.  We aren't condemning....instead we stand up together in love and help each other through times of adversity, forgetting about ourselves and our own needs in order to see each other succeed.  We believe the best in one another.  We....Love.  Because Love...

    "Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

    Love never dies.
   ...  But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." - The Message: The Way Of Love / 1 Corinthians 13

God, let me live up to those words!  My goal and my prayer is to live a life of love as an example to the three sets of eyes and ears that watch me daily.  My greatest goal is to love my family and friends, but especially my three children, unconditionally each day of their lives and thus opening their eyes and hearts to the love of our heavenly Father and causing them to decide to live a life following Him.  To exemplify in my life what it means to really love fiercely, without reservation, without grudge...to love without being afraid of rejection, ridicule or condemnation.  To know that there's nothing they can do to make me love them any less...yes, even if they murdered someone, I would love them.  That I don't always have to agree with their decisions; my job is to love.  Especially when life gets knotted, twisted and ugly.  To extend grace.  To love...extravagantly.

And for me...that shouldn't be too difficult.  I have a lot to work with. 

 And I also now have a beautiful necklace to wear once again.