While gazing upon the beauty and the movement of the ocean, my husband asked me a question that sparked a compelling conversation my mind carried for days to come: What does it look like to love well? I see love through two sets of lenses: The Father’s view and The world’s view.
The Father’s view of loving well is vulnerable and authentic. When we love from this place we give with no record of giving. We give with no expectation of anything in return. The beauty of this love touches deep into the places where it is needed because it comes from a pure, life giving well. The Father’s view of loving well comes from the truth that we are loved fully as a daughter of the King and through us His loves fill us and pours out of us. The offering of love is of greatest importance.
The world’s view of loving well is not love at all. It is a self-centered and self-protecting action. It sits behind a pose, behind a wall of fear and a wall of brokenness. When we “love” from this place, we grasp the mindset that if we throw ourselves into the needs of others, if we throw our money and our time into giving others everything we have, then our hearts will look really good from a distance and we will not have to allow anyone access to it. The world’s view of loving well is motivated by a checklist that is to be maintained. Image is of greatest importance.
I want to pause for a moment and be real. I live out both of these views. This does not make me a failure as a mom, wife, daughter or friend. Rather, it’s a reminder I’m an unfinished masterpiece.
My personality is one that delights in caring for and loving others. It’s how my Father created me. During my mom’s nine month battle with cancer, I poured everything I had into loving and supporting my parents. It was my joy. It was my delight. When my mom passed away, I felt pulled to continually check in on my dad. Add to that, reconnecting with my own children, husband and friends, whom I felt I had abandoned during this crisis. While my intentions were good, I did not have a reservoir from which to draw from. I was operating through the lens of the world’s view of love. I was empty and needed to be filled back up.
Each day, I have the opportunity to check the condition of my heart. This is not an invitation to shame myself. It is an indicator to help me guard my heart and the hearts of those I love. If the the well from which my love pours out is running low or empty, it would not be kind to offer myself to others a love that is mere scraps and bears little fruit. To love others well, I am to love myself well. I am to care for my heart and seek The One who is able to fill me.
I am called to love, but first, I am to BE loved by my Father. This truth is simple, yet for me, it is also very scary. How could someone love me fully as I am? I blow it on a daily basis and feel like a hot mess 95% of the time. My head knows the truth that I am loved deeply by my Father but the transmitters to my heart become intercepted by the lies and the agreements the enemy throws at me. When I fail to walk in the truth, I wonder how I could possibly sit at the feet of my Father and ask for His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness. It is much easier to disqualify myself and love others than to love myself. But I don’t want easy. I want LIFE. I want LOVE. I want JOY. I want FREEDOM.
To love well, I love myself well. To love myself well, I accept the invitation from my Father and allow Him to love me well.
1 John 4:19 The Message
We, though are going to love-love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.