I woke up this morning with this thought. “I have behaved like a spoiled child, of late, and it’s time to stop.”
My attitude, to be honest, has been crap. My effort towards this project, again to be honest, has been crap. In short, I have been mired in, well, crap.
I don’t know what broke me from my self-inflicted, navel gazing, martyrdom. Could have been the half bottle of vanilla vodka I shared Mother’s Day with. Could have been the recent uptick in praying with friends. Could have been the Holy Spirit stepping in to look me in the eye and say in his best Fatherly voice, “That’s enough.”
Or maybe it was a book.
My dearest friend, LDC, has written two young adult novels. They are exquisite stories mixing quantum physics, young love and heroic tales of overcoming some hideous personal obstacle. Even in their raw, as yet unedited, first draft state they are also the best Christian allegory I have ever been privileged to read.
She brought to stark, soul shredding reality what Christ endures when we are unfaithful to Him in our thoughts, attitudes and eventual actions. I use the word unfaithful because it is betraying the lover of our souls. He isn’t a grand judge holding a measuring stick and a mallet. He is one who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves-for before the foundation of the world He KNEW us. No living creature could have known us that long or that deeply.
I wept with her main character Corey as he was betrayed again and again by his one true love-the one he has loved for 1000 years. Despite the pain he pledges to love her for 1000 more. Jesus pledges His love for me. Though I betray Him, again and again-He still loves me.
You see being mired in crap is a decision I made. I left the comforting arms of the One who loves me and knows me inside and out. I stopped talking to Him because I was mad I didn’t get my way. I stomped my foot, grabbed my toys (given to me by Him in the first place) and huffed into the other room.
I stopped engaging in this very simple blog project: eat less, pray more and love abundantly. Instead I chose to look at circumstances which made me eat more, pray less and hate more abundantly.
So now what do I do?
In the past I would have given up and moved on. I am an expert at walking away, particularly from myself and my God. In the past I would have convinced myself that “I am okay,” despite every indicator to the contrary.
For today, I choose to step out of the crap. I choose to eat less. I choose to pray more. I choose to love abundantly.
I choose God. I choose to believe in the one thing He says to all of us, whether we hear Him or not. “I love you. I love you so much I have a plan for your life. I have a future and a hope. I loved you before the foundations of the world. I. LOVE. YOU.”
I will answer back. I. Love. You.
The rest we will figure out together, Him and I. Perhaps you and I will figure it out together too.
What does it mean to love abundantly?
There is the scripture which says that no greater love exists than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The single most extravagant act of love in all of time was the crucifixion. God and man collided with sin and death. Even to His last moments, bruised, bloodied and dying, Jesus chose to forgive. He chose to love despite the pain, despite the thorns, despite the brokenness of His own spirit.
I have loved, in ways I thought extravagant. Often with disastrous results. No, I haven’t been nailed to a cross. However, my heart, motives, actions and character have taken a beating. I’ve bled over relationships broken beyond my ability to repair. I’ve chosen to forgive. I’ve also chosen to toughen up my defenses. I’ve become far more selective on who, what, when, where and why I will lay down my life. I found myself devoid of life to give.
But doesn’t loving abundantly mean exactly that? Abundance. Not careful and selective choosing. Not defensive protectiveness. But loving despite the consequences or the messiness of the journey?
Hours before the hellish abuses of the crucifixion, Jesus prayed alone in the garden. He prayed that it would all pass by Him, that He wouldn’t have to endure the horrific physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Yet, He made a two part decision. The first was to come to terms with the toll His love would demand. The second was to see beyond the excruciating death to what lay beyond.
Hebrews 12:2 (ERV) 2 We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.” (emphasis mine) Jesus fully realized the pain He would endure. He also accepted it ‘as if it were nothing’.
The cross of crucifixion-nothing! Are you kidding? He could accept it because the joy on the other side of the pain far overshadowed the hellishness He would endure. The ends were so glorious, so beautiful, so joyful that the pain would become nothing.
To love abundantly is to come to terms with the fact that love will hurt. It also means to recognize on the other side of that pain is something good IF we look to the One who makes us complete.
Less-more-abundantly is a journey. One I am undertaking to understand how to love abundantly through the pain to get to the other side.
There is a song which asks all the questions I do when it comes to love. It gives no easy answers, however, it points the way. There is only one way to love abundantly, and that is with arms wide open, my heart exposed. This blog is one way I am opening my arms. Will you open yours?
Less-More-Abundantly is a year long journey I am taking. Inspired by two books, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I will endeavor to do three things: 1. Eat less, 2. Pray more, 3. Love abundantly.
Gilbert, in “Eat, Pray, Love” shares her journey across the world to find herself. She eats, prays and loves her way to wholeness of identity. I am going to do the same, though I probably will never leave the comfort of my own livingroom.
Voskamp, in “A Thousand Gifts” is a dare to live fully right where you are. I take up the challenge.
Less More Abundantly will explore my journey and invite you to take it with me. Or at least stand on the sidelines, cheer and pass me a cup of water as I pass by.
In “Eat, Pray, Love” Gilbert writes, “I am alone, I am all alone, I am completely alone. Grasping this reality, I let go of my bag, drop to my knees and press my forehead against the floor. There, I offer up to the universe a fervent prayer of thanks. First in English. Then in Italian. And then—just to get the point across—in Sanskrit. And since I am already down there in supplication on the floor, let me hold that position as I reach back in time… to the moment when this entire story began—a moment which also found me in this exact same posture: on my knees, on a floor, praying.”
My moment begins now. I too, offer up a prayer of thankfulness for beginnings full of promise. I take up the dare to live fully in this moment, whether alone or in a crowd.
Thank you for taking the journey with me.