What Does It Mean to Love Well?

How Do I Love Well?
How Do I Love Well?

Valentine’s Day was yesterday. My blog about love is late. Still here it is.

How Do I Love Well?

When I think about love, I begin with giving God thanks for the “second chance” at loving God has given me with Tom. Every night and every morning, we give God thanks for bringing us together and teaching us how to love well.

What does it mean to love well?

Very early in our relationship, Tom started calling me his “Just Right Jan,” just right for him. I am amazed at the joy and the safety I draw from knowing I am loved just as I am. Too many of us, whether we mean to or not, give our loved ones the message that love will come only after they have grown and changed. Often, I’ve heard statements like, “No matter what I did, in my father’s eyes it was never good enough.” Or “My wife was never satisfied with who I am.” To be just right for Tom, even as I’m learning and growing, is a wonderful gift.

I think that’s how God is able to give us a first and second and fifth and one hundredth chance. God must think we are “just right” the way God created us. God loves us just as we are, and loves us as we learn and grow. We sing the old hymn, “Just as I am, I come,” and feel joy and safety fill our hearts.

I’ve been reading the story of Jonah and the whale in the Bible. It’s a story of second chances. I’m sure God could have given up on both Jonah and the Ninevites, but God persists. God loves all of God’s creation.

This Valentine’s Day, let your mind slip over the people you love. Let go of your expectations. Let go of waiting for them to be…whatever. Let yourself love them just as they are.

Please read the whole story of Jonah or at least chapters 3 & 4.

“What Was That, Anyway?”

Can You Recognize God’s Spirit?

Tears of Joy
Tears of Joy

At choir practice a number of years ago, my good friend, Cathy had the seat beside me. We giggled and laughed and enjoyed our friendship even as we worked hard at singing. One night at practice, we stood up and sang with great gusto the African hymn, “We are Marching in the Light of God.” I felt tears of joy fill my eyes as our voices filled the sanctuary. When we sat down, Cathy leaned over and said, “Wow, that made the hair on my arms stand up. What was that, anyway?”

My immediate response, “God’s Spirit just joined in our fun.”

She looked at me and frowned, but said nothing more. After practice we went for coffee. As soon as we sat down, Cathy asked, “What did you mean by, ‘God’s spirit just joined in our fun.’?”

I shared stories with her of other special moments when I had felt the Spirit’s presence. I told her of the tears of joy that came with my child’s first step, my daughter’s marriage, when I first held in my hands a book I had written and more. Each time, God’s Spirit came it brought a physical response – tears of joy flowed down my cheeks, the hair on my arms stood up, or a shiver ran from my toes to my head. The Bible tells us we cannot control God’s Spirit; she comes when and where she chooses. Our job is to recognize her presence. “Thank you,” was all Cathy said.

On Sunday morning two weeks later, one of our choir soloists sang, “Mary Did you Know”. When she finished, Cathy leaned over and said, “Did you feel it? Did you feel God’s Spirit. Look!” She touched a tear on her cheek. “I think God enjoyed Linda’s solo as much as the rest of us. Thank you for naming God’s Spirit for me.“

God had used me, not to preach, but to share my faith stories. Together we made a crack and God seeped in. I am grateful.

The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 8)