Love Anyway

"Ugh, Dad, we have to say it again?"
Each of my three little boys mutter this each school morning from the back of our crumb laden mini van. My husband, ever so sweetly, shuttles them to day care or school every single morning while I bring the baby to work. God bless him. The morning commute is nuts with three loud tinies in tow. Nuts!!
You know what he did? He took it as a chance to open up my blue eyed boys world to Jesus in their every day, walking around life. Oh how I love that man. 
He says to them, "okay boys- what does the Jesus creed say?" and they at first, roll their eyes, but eventually glady say, 
"Love God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself." Similar to how Luke 10:27 says it and how the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 tells more of the story. 
Wow. Two simple truths. Love God, love people. 
What a perfect thing to focus on each and every day. For kids and grown ups.
When a boy snatches a toy, hits, or is being selfish we say "what does the Jesus creed say?" 
I should ask myself this question more often too. 

You know what though? It ain't easy lovin other people is it? Not easy at all.
Other people disappoint. They are selfish. 
They flake out. They speak hurtful things. 
They don't call, text or visit when you are in the hospital.
They make plans to hang out only to have something better to do at the last minute.
They hurt you. They disappoint you. They forget about you.
They cut you off in traffic. They talk about you behind your back.
They get mad. They are disrespectful. They don't tell the full truth.
They don't share toys. They push you on the playground. You get it.
They are human. So are you.

That 'love other people as you love yourself' part is hard. Hard.
Especially when you have these expectations for how other people should act. How they should love.
You can't control them though can you? You can only control how you react. 
I choose to react in love. Love anyway. Sure, at first I may be disappointed they chose not to love me. But I want to love others as I love myself. It's sort of this cycle that draws us closer to Jesus. Love God and love imperfect people like yourself. It restores us to live in grace. To forgive. To grow. To love. God more. A God who loved us, imperfect people, and died on the cross for us despite how hard it must be to love us.

I want to bring them a meal after they just went through the groans of labor with a tiny babe.
I want to offer a word of encouragement when they seem to be having a hard time.
I want to send them a text or call them when they are sick or hurt or have lost someone.
I want to let them skip in line when they have a crying baby.
I want to ask them about themselves and truly listen.
I want to be quiet and listen to my son throwing a tantrum.
I want these things for others because I want them for myself. 
I want to be a glimmer of Jesus when I'm sure lots of other people have flaked out on them during a tough time. I won't be perfect at it, in fact will mess up often and so will you, so don't expect everyone else to love you as Jesus does. Forgive and move on. Just love them anyway.

Focus on loving your Holy Father above all else. He is perfect love. From that, loving others as you love yourself will flow out of your heart naturally. An overflow. Overflow of compassion, of concern, of genuine love. Even that whiny toddler having a meltdown in Target. Even that baby who is crying to nurse for the third time tonight. Even your husband who snores while you are exhausted. 

You know what Jesus said next, He said "do this and you will live." Live
Live abundantly, joyfully, and brightly. Like you are dancing kind of living. 
Love God, love people.
Love God, love people.


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