Did You Learn to Love?

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It’s been days now. Days. Days of hearing the same sentence roll over and over again in my mind, like a gentle wave that caresses the shore with its frothy goodness.

“Did you learn to love?”

“Did you learn to love?”

“Daughter, did you learn to love?”

I can’t explain how this question makes me feel. I can only say that it reaches down to the depths of my soul and brings me to tears every time. It reverberates within my spirit. Love. It’s all about love. It always has been and it always will be. There is nothing new under the sun. The scenery of history has changed dramatically over 4,000 years, but the issue of God wanting to transform the heart of man has not.

I’ve heard multiple stories over the years of individuals who have died and find themselves face-to-face with Jesus in Heaven as He asks them this same question: “Did you learn to love?” In all of the stories that I have heard or read, the person regretfully responds, “No”. And despite wanting to stay in Heaven with Jesus, these men and women find themselves back in the earthly realm, as He has sent them back to finish out their call to love others.

And so I ask it of myself:

“Have I learned to love others?”

“Have I learned to love others even a little bit? The way He has called me to love them?”

This question just undoes me. I have no words to answer it. Just tears.

Because in each moment that His Spirit asks me this question, my entire life becomes a panoramic photo from which I zoom out and just peruse. Looking. Looking. For those moments when I know I loved the unlovable. When I loved the castaways of society. When I loved the socially distasteful and marginalized. When I loved the insecure and broken. When the love in my heart mirrored the love in Jesus’ heart.

It’s incredible how much of my life becomes little scraps of paper that I brush away like debris. I sift and sift through all of my life’s accomplishments, aspirations, education, victories, trials, valleys.

My life is a giant reference manual, and I become disheartened as I scroll through more and more pages to only find a line or two every few chapters that I can highlight. The times I modeled His love. Not the world’s counterfeit love. His love. His pure, unadulterated love that has no strings attached, no hidden agendas.

And it’s the simple moments of loving that are the ones He smiles upon and tells me, “That one. I love how you loved right there.”

It’s not the ones I think are great that He highlights. It’s not the times when my higher-level education and giftings came into play. It’s not the times I think, “I really nailed that one.”

It’s the small things that I thought were insignificant. That anyone could do. Things that required no education, no special giftings. Like the time at the restaurant when I stopped to chat with an elderly woman who looked lonely. Or the time I helped a stressed-out mom with three kids to her car, after the grocery-store clerk had gotten exasperated with her food-stamp complications. The times I just looked at a stranger and said, “How are you doing?” Or the time I was running late but chose to stay and listen to the stranger’s life story and struggles. The times I prayed for grieving friends because there was nothing else I could do.

It’s the times I willingly choose to engage with a person and communicate the unspoken message that, “I’m in this life too. It’s tough. We’re all in this together. You’re not alone.”

Love. Empathy. The most powerful and universal languages in the world.

I think I’m learning. I’m definitely on the path anyway. And the further I go down this road, the more things I leave behind. I realize love’s simplicity. I realize the path of love does not require as much as I thought it did.

I even have those Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus revelations that what I thought I was doing righteously for God was in actuality contrary to God’s heart or not in His gameplan at all. So many beautiful sandcastles in my life have been washed away. Like my brilliant parenting book that I started writing years ago. Or my goal of being the perfect wife, mom, and friend. Yah, that’s not happening anytime soon. And I’m at the point where I’m glad to see them go. Less of me—more of Him.

I used to think loving others meant witnessing to them and telling them all about God. But the truth is that people in the world are so tired of being spiritually mugged. There has been too much hypocrisy in the Church. So we have to love differently. We need to dial it back to Jesus’ simple statement in John 13:35, where He said, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

So I try to love differently now. I love through my words of connection, my actions, my eye-contact, my compassion. The truth is that my spirit is made of God’s light, and even if I don’t mention the name of Jesus in a conversation, people see and experience that light. That light is life-changing. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” And the Spirit of God that lives in us touches and changes a person with each love encounter.

I’ve also found that loving others is often synonymous with inconvenience. Am I willing to be inconvenienced for His sake? For the people that are on His heart? This is where the rubber has met the road in my life. In a busy family of 6, we don’t have much lag time. The resource of time is my most precious commodity. But when He brings someone into my daily path, and I say yes to His daily inconveniences of love, He miraculously helps me finish out the rest of my responsibilities.

I’ve also been learning that love does not mean enabling. Jesus was not an enabler. So I’ve been learning to practice boundaries in love and dig into some of the tougher aspects of love with those in my closer life circles. This has been an incredibly challenging season as I’m learning to walk out this particular aspect of love.

So I know I look like a normal person on the outside. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, and a productive member of society. I play the roles really well. And I speed around like the Roadrunner most days, trying to keep up with the hat of parental multitasking. But if you could see me on the inside, you’d see that that is just what I do. It’s not who I am.

Who am I on the inside?

I am one who is learning to love.

And one day, I hope to be able to answer His question with a yes:

“Did you learn to love?”

❤️

{“‘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.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40).}

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