Does love REALLY matter?…

49913435.FallSky_DSC4675I was standing on my deck.  It was the first cool evening of the season…the first sign that fall was nearing.  I was alone with my thoughts…contemplating the prompting I was feeling from God to share my story.  A prompting to start a blog.  I couldn’t imagine that I was “hearing” Him correctly.  I knew absolutely nothing about blogs.  I kind of knew what they were, but I had no clue how to start one.  I was also questioning Him…once again…if what I was doing was right.  Loving my son was so easy.  There is nothing he could do that would take that love away.  I guess for me loving meant accepting and that is where I was getting tripped up.  Like a child on a long trip that asks repeatedly, “Are we there yet?” I kept asking God the same questions.

  • Am I really hearing you or is this something I want to believe?
  • Am I handling things the way you want me to?
  • Am I going to be hated because of this?

I’m sure I drove Him crazy just like my kids have done on occasion on those long trips (smile).  I pondered whether or not it was possible to have my faith and love what my “Christianity” had told me was unloveable.  And then I heard it…like a whisper…”love matters.”  Be accepting, be loving…because it matters.  I knew in that instant I was supposed to share my story in a blog, and I was to call it “Love Matters.”  This month marks my one year journey.

So, why does love matter?

I think the easy answer to that is “God is love.”

1 John 4:8 (NIV)

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

God certainly matters and if God is love, then doesn’t love matter too?  I want to know God.  REALLY know Him.  So, I am going to love because I think that is where I will meet God.  And if I don’t love…I have nothing and I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)

13 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.

I also think it is our responsibility to love…

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So what is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,LOVE-LIFE-2 it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.

Can you imagine what this world would be like if we all lived like that…loved like that?

How will we (Christ followers) be known…

John 13:35 (NIV)

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We are made in God’s image.  We all need love because we all need God, and God is love.  We have an emptiness without Him.  He loved us so much that He sacrificed His son for us.  And He asked that we love Him and our neighbors.  This is why love matters.  It’s a big deal, and I’m not pretending that it is easy.  In fact, sometimes it will be the hardest thing you do. But in doing so, you might meet some amazing people that you otherwise would not have known.  It’s not a feeling…it’s an action.

So go out and share some love…because love matters.

Good-way-to-say-i-love-you

You know how much I love music too so I leave you with this:

 

coffee for your heart

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Get out of here you monkeys!…

When I was a little girl, I watched the Wizard of Oz at my cousin’s house.  It practically scarred me for life!  It wasn’t the wicked witch that did it either.  It was those darn monkeys!  Oh my goodness they scared the bajeebies out of me.  Let’s face it, they were horrifying, and my poor parents paid the price.  I was terrified to go to bed.  I just knew those monkeys were going to come out at night and get me.  For whatever reason, I thought they lived in my closet.  So every night when it came to bedtime, I would cry and get hysterical about the monkeys in my closet.  My mommonkeys would open the closet and show me that there weren’t any monkeys in there, but it didn’t matter.  In my mind, they were going to magically appear just as I fell asleep.  What’s a parent to do?  You get “monkey spray”…of course. My mom got a can of Lysol and proclaimed that it was monkey spray.  All the monkeys hated this spray and it made them go away. And so it began, the nightly ritual of spraying away the monkeys.  My mom would open the closet and exclaim, “Get out of here you monkeys!” as she sprayed the can of Lysol.  And I bought it…hook, line, and sinker. Genius! And…I had the most germ free closet in America (smile).

Now why did the “monkey spray” work?  Maybe in my mind I really thought that it killed monkeys.  But I think it had more to do with the trust I had in my mom.  I knew that she loved me and would protect me no matter what…even if it meant fighting terrifying monkeys.  If she said that the spray made them go away, then of course I believed her.

We are in the middle of a series at church on faith.  In looking at the series, I noticed that one of the week’s topics was “What do you do when your faith is tested?”  I’ve been pondering that idea because I feel that my faith has been tested on different occasions.  I came to the conclusion that for me faith is really a matter of trust.  Do I trust that God is going to do the things that He says He is going to do?

I was given a gift by God when my mom died that helped to build this trust with Him.  At her funeral, when I felt like I was going to just lose it, I prayed and told God I couldn’t do it alone.  I needed Him to take over for me….and He did.  I felt such a sense of peace that it actually felt like the stress and anxiety were literally being sucked out of my chest.  It was in that moment that I knew for sure that God was real.  He wanted to take my burden, and He did so in a big way.  That gift has helped me through many difficult times in my life since then.  I trusted Him…until one fateful day.

I’ve shared before that when I learned my son was gay I heard God clearly say that it was going to be ok.  I took that to mean that we would discover why this had happened and we would “fix” it.  I was led to believe that it could happen.  I went to places on the internet like Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and Exodus and read story after story about how people had changed their sexual orientation.  I prayed every day for God to help my son discover why this had happened to him so that he could also have that change.  It is what my son prayed for as well.  As the weeks, months, and eventual years passed, I started to lose my trust in God.  I put Him in a tiny little box and kept Him at arm’s length.  Was He the God that I had believed Him to be?  Why was this happening?  I got to the point that I was afraid to read my Bible because I was scared of what I was going to find, and when I did read it verses like this just led to more confusion:

Matthew 21:21-22
Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more.  You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.  You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

140316133840-largeI did have faith.  I trusted that God would listen to and answer my prayers.  But my trust was fading.  I truly believed that God could do anything (I still do).  I still prayed, but the prayers felt forced.  The Bible tells us that when we don’t have the words to pray, the Holy Spirit will pray the words for us.  I had run out of words so I knew that the Holy Spirit had taken over.  Surely he would know what to pray to make God move in this area.  The change never came.  So, I had to take a look at that.  If this was something that God “hated” so much, why wasn’t He helping my son?  My son was willing, asking for help, but nothing changed.  Why?

Throughout this journey, God was speaking to me.  I just wasn’t listening. Instead, I was listening to people.  It took a lot of time…years even…for me to realize that it wasn’t God that I had lost faith in…I had lost faith in God’s people. Those stories I had read about change turned out to be untrue.  The change that people professed was false.  I can’t tell you how damaging that was to not only me, but to so many others.  I wasted so many years believing that lie and blaming myself for it not happening in my family.

I decided to let God out of the box I had put Him in.  I had to remember that His ways are not my ways.  I was hearing from Him all along.  He was telling me that it was ok to love my son.  He was telling me that He loved Him too. He told me to stop listening to people and focus on Him.  It was hard…it still is some days.  Through this journey I have met so many people who have had horrible experiences at the hands of God’s people.  I know a woman who was told that God gave her a very serious illness because she didn’t kick her gay child out of her home.  I know a family that was banned from their church because they support their gay daughter.  I know families that are torn in half because family members believe that by supporting their gay child they are leading them straight into hell.  And others feel the need to constantly quote Bible verses to us…a common one being this:

2 Timothy 4:3
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

I’m learning to silence the voices of people and listen for the voice of God. Getting rid of the monkeys (smile).  It is challenging at times.  But I want to fight the good fight, run a good race, and I want to keep the faith.

I love this quote:

A true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle.  No, it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ – George Whitefield

The heart cannot be easy till it is doing something for Christ.  God has given me a strong desire to help families who are on this same journey.  It is so isolating and painful.  He has also given me a passion for the children who are kicked out of their homes.  I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but I am open to His leading.

I found this quote from John Ortberg this week and I absolutely love it:

“In a contagious world, we learn to keep our distance. If we get too close to those who are suffering, we might get infected by their pain. It may not be convenient or comfortable. But only when you get close enough to catch their hurt will they be close enough to catch your love” ~ John Ortberg

Oh Lord…may I get close enough to another’s hurt so that they catch my love….because love matters.

Trust-building-blocks

 

coffee for your heart

No regrets…

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

Growing up, I had a friend that had a very volatile relationship with her mother. There were many times I was uncomfortable being in their home because they would be screaming at each other. I never understood it.  I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my mom.  I never once raised my voice to her.  And I’m so glad because she died very suddenly (you can read about it in my post “I will see you again”).  Even though I never fought with my mom, there were times when she would do something I didn’t like and I would think things in my head that I would like to say, but didn’t.  I’m so thankful I kept it to myself.  I regretted every negative thing I ever thought about her when she died…and she didn’t even know about it!  But the regret was deep.

It saddens me to see relationships in strife.  I wish I could make the people contributing to that strife understand that they don’t know how long they may have with their loved one.  They should cherish moments with them.  I know that relationships aren’t always smooth sailing, but we can choose to treat each other in a way that we won’t regret later.

My heart broke into a million pieces this week when I watched a video that had gone viral.  I knew what was coming…I knew it would be heart wrenching, and I watched it anyway.  I had no choice.  I was compelled to watch it even if only to remind myself of what I’m fighting for because this happens more often than I care to imagine.  I wasn’t going to write about it because many bloggers had done so this week.  But God wouldn’t leave me alone. Maybe it’s because many of my readers who don’t live in my “world”…the LGBT “world” may have missed it.  Maybe it is something they need to see…to experience… so that they can understand the emotion caught up in this subject.

This is a young man named Daniel who knew he was being called into an “intervention” type of meeting by his family.  He used his phone to record the meeting (you can only hear what is happening…you can’t see anything).  His boyfriend later posted it on FB and it went viral.  It’s only 5 minutes long, but it is a gut wrenching 5 minutes.  Warning:  If you have been abused in any way, this may be a trigger for you and I would recommend you not watch it.  It also has strong language:

They start the conversation with the words…”you know I love you.”  This is a funny way to show it.  I’m happy to say that even though Daniel was kicked out of his home he is currently safe.  Unfortunately, that is not the case for many others.  40% of homeless youth are LGBT and this is why (for help visit here).  What about this is ok?  It saddens me that people use the Bible to condone this type of behavior.  I think it grieves Jesus as well.  I know that not everyone behaves this way. And maybe you are thinking this is an extreme case.  I wish I could say that were so, but I hear about this type of thing almost everyday.

When my son came out, I told him that I loved him no matter what…and I meant it with all of my being.  I did, however, say some very insensitive things to him.  Things that I was taught growing up in the Church.  I was saying them…not really even knowing why I was saying them.  I was just repeating what I had heard.  When I got down into the nitty-gritty with God, I learned a better way.  He saved me from myself, and in doing so, He saved my relationship with my son.  I have been able to go back to him and express my regrets for the things that I said.  Please understand that I am for the Church.  I just think they have some changing to do when it comes to this matter.  And this is why it matters to me what church I go to now and in the future.  That is something I’m currently working on with God.  What will He have me do?  Only time will tell (smile).

Someone once said to me, “I know we are supposed to love gay people, but what does that look like?”  I think it looks like this:

1 John 4:7-8 (NLT) Loving One Another

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

So moving forward I want to live a life with NO REGRETS when it comes to loving people.  I can’t afford them.  I want to love BEYOND words…because LOVE MATTERS.

regret