Recently my sister asked me “what is love?” She is wrestling like me. I am not completely certain, but one thing for sure, caregiving has given me a different picture of love.
Love is definitely NOT warm fuzzy feelings. It may not even be at its core emotion at all, though there are emotions attached to it. But love transcends emotion because emotions are flesh. Real love is in the spirit. God is love and God is Spirit. Yet, God definitely has emotions.
At its heart and essence, I’m beginning to see that love resides somewhere in the grit-your-teeth killing of the self. It is keeping on, enduring, persevering, choosing to do the right thing though you know you will be misunderstood, rejected, punished for it. It is taking the next step and the next step and the next, always focused on what pleases God, what will heal and help and draw others into understanding and knowing who the Father is.
It is giving whatever it is that we have without expecting anything at all. Always holding in our open hands blessing, acceptance, another chance, hope. Representing our Lord, being a picture of him here on earth. It’s all of the bless-those-who-curse-you, do-good-to-those-who-mistreat-you stuff. It is definitely doing what you don’t want to do a lot of the time. It is letting the nails sink right in and not trying to hurt back. In other words, it’s being Jesus, his body, here and now.
I don’t have it yet. Honestly, for me so far, it has been yelling and venting and questioning everything, scraping all my assumptions and expectations off down to the bedrock and starting over. It’s been wrestling down the flesh every single day – anger and resentment and fear and despair and unforgiveness and entitlement and doubt and worthless words* – surrendering over and over, and choosing again and again to let go and wait for God and trust that his strength will come. Strength to be poured out like water on the ground. To let Christ love in me and through me. Because there is no way I can do this kind of love.
*More on Worthless Words
Image copyright Sheila Bair