I am writing this in honor of my sweet friend Mariya Hope who last year lost her battle to cancer, but who has forever left an imprint on my life and the life of so many other people. She is somebody who taught me about love and about living fully present and inspired me to never stop fighting. I am writing this for her mom, Janice, who has inspired me to grow deeper roots and to keep showing up no matter what we feel. A couple of weeks ago I sat with Janice at church and we hugged each other and cried as we worshipped, and that right there is what love is. It is showing up with our brokenness and heartache and choosing to believe in the one who can make us whole and whose mercy redeems every situation. As you read through this post, my prayer is that it stirs something in you and you are able to let love bloom just a little more.
Love isn’t a destination that we should aim to reach, but rather it is the process of growth that causes us to bloom.
Love isn’t something we can contain and pack away only to be used when its convenient, it is the way we live our lives and fight for the hearts around us.
Love isn’t harsh and belittling, but it is humble and all encompassing in the way it invites people to be themselves.
Love isn’t logical, in fact it often times finds its roots in soil that most people dismiss and overlook.
Love doesn’t confine people or label them as unworthy; it fights for people and chooses to believe in them regardless of how the world sees them.
Love is the key, the answer, the solution to revive our weary hearts; it is just often overlooked and dismissed.
I fear we have allowed our perceptions of love to define the way we view the world and ourselves. The sad reality is, that most of us feel incapable of giving love, because we have never truly received love.
I have spent a long time thinking of love as a destination, constantly wanting to go new places and to seek the adventure of discovering where I am meant to be. I have a longing in my heart to travel and to see new places. I want to explore new cities, to love in big and grand ways, to show people that life with Jesus is never boring or mundane. I pursued missions, visiting three different continents and growing in my love for Jesus and for His people. I wouldn’t take it back and often times miss it.
Yet in the pursuit of these big and grand expressions of love, I think I found myself forgetting that love isn’t always loud and bold. I am learning every day that the love of God doesn’t change and it is just as grand here in Colorado as it was in those other places. I am just as capable of loving people here and now as a preschool teacher with a Monday through Friday job as I was working in a township in South Africa. Loving big doesn’t require flying on a plane or being in a country where there is an obvious need, it doesn’t require a loud voice or a big platform. It simply requires showing up, being willing to pause and to truly take in and see the world around us.
Often time’s love is found in consistently showing up for somebody, day in and day out. Sometimes love is found in a prayer being offered to a stranger. Or perhaps it is found in sitting with somebody who’s grieving, simply being present regardless of the ability to change the situation.
My point is, love isn’t a destination or a place we stop, it is the way we live our lives and the way we show people who God is. Yesterday I was spending time with my friend and he told me that “ people don’t care what you know until they know you care”. It has caused me to start thinking that the more we simply love people and show up for them, the more we will introduce them to Gods love and the more they will realize that His love is what they’ve been seeking all along. I have been dwelling on this verse in Matthew all week “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it “ love your neighbor as yourself”. It has caused me to reflect and to think on the ways that I love and to realize that love is a lifelong pursuit that is full of joy and excitement.
What if we begin to let love be our purpose and the way that we live our lives? I am convinced that the more we love God the more we will love ourselves and that the ripple effect will be more love extended towards people.
Love is a journey, it is the here and now, the becoming of whom God says we are. Love is the process of blooming and radiating sunshine to every heart we come into contact with. Thank you Janice, for letting love guide you on this journey and for being a consistent presence of love in my life.