People are hurting right now. I know you know this, because many of you are hurting, too. And so are most of the people around us. This is an incredible time to offer compassion and support as many people are feeling isolated and alone, and without hope.
They need what we need, a fresh encounter with love. I’ve written on this before, but Jesus showed me something powerful this morning. And it all starts with love.
There is a lot of talk and tips floating around on handling holiday gatherings and dealing with family drama. Most of what I’m seeing focuses on what topics, triggers or perhaps toxic people to avoid. How to stay out of the drama and the stress often brought about in these intense and baggage-laden events. I think what is often left out is the desperate need for God’s compassion and love even in the midst of our family messes. Here’s what I mean.
It is unrealistic to expect that you can walk into these charged situations and have the love, compassion and kindness you need…if you have not spent time receiving the love, compassion and kindness you need.
(I’ll wait while you read that again.)
You have great power to navigate tricky and even painful relationships. The key is to understand where this power comes from.
Maybe you have gone into family gatherings in the past armed with good intentions to show grace and act loving toward others. How did that work out? Not great I’m guessing. Triggers happen, people! We cannot choose to “act loving” or “be loving.” That’s not the way it works. We can’t modify behavior or decide ourselves into loving the unlovely, especially if they have hurt or disappointed us in the past.
(Side note–I am NOT talking about toxic, abusive or destructive relationships here. If you have people in your life who have physically, emotionally or spiritually abused you, I would not expect you to maintain relationships with them. These are toxic people and it is just as loving to distance yourself from those people for the sake of your healing. I do not believe Abba expects you to allow yourself to continue to be hurt and abused for the sake of “love.”)
However, many of us will be interacting with sad, ugly and hurtful people who just happen to be related to us. In these situations, our own fear and insecurity can often lead us to do and say things we later regret, and question our salvation when we act in such unloving ways. This message will help, I promise.
Consider 1 Corinthians 16:14: Let all that you do be done in love. When we read this scripture, often we focus on the “do” part. What I want to focus on today is the “in” part. I believe what Paul really meant in this verse was: do all that you do from a place of abiding in his love. Oh friends, this can really help you if you will take this to heart.
We cannot choose to act loving toward others. It doesn’t work. I mean sometimes we can force ourselves to be nice when we don’t feel like it, but is that really loving?
We can only truly love others to the extent that we have experienced God’s love for ourselves, and as we have learned to love ourselves. I know, you’ve probably heard this many times before. And yet, we are still trying to tolerate, er love, others from a space of acting loving or choosing to love.
What if love isn’t a choice, but an experience?
What if our ability to love others comes from our ability to receive love for ourselves?
What if the only way to act loving toward the people who so desperately need love right now is to prioritize encountering God’s love over the next 10 days, to let him love on us lavishly and freely, so that when we walk into our family gatherings, we will be so filled with his intimate, rich, sweet love that we can’t help but overflow onto others?
This is what it means to let all that you do be done in love.
Here’s how we get there:
- Experience God’s love for you; the abiding love of your Abba Father, the intimate, passionate love of Jesus, and the comforting, maternal love of the Holy Spirit.
- Choose to love yourself fully; honor yourself and your needs, fully accept every part of you (and your story) and decide to be gentle and gracious as you grow.
- Let love flow to others; as you receive and abide in his love for you, as you know your worth and value comes from God, and as you allow Jesus to love fully and graciously through you.
For now, meditate on these three concepts. Invite Holy Spirit to come and minister God’s love to you in a fresh and personal way.