Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. (C.S. Lewis)
Ever have those seasons in life where you just need a little more encouragement than you do in others? Like hearing the kind words of a dear friend would just make you feel like you’re on top of the world again? Well that’s where I have found myself lately. But more than just some acquaintance that hardly knows the true me, I need it to come from someone in my intimate sphere of life. Someone who sees my short comings as well as my strengths.
Caring about people is exhausting. Years ago I started asking God to give me a heart for His people, to help me love the way He does: unconditionally and without judgment. But I don’t think I really understood what I was asking for, or perhaps I did not realize how such a seemly simple request could be so darn difficult. Unrestrained love is dangerous. Dangerous in that it can be so rewarding and so painful all at the same time. Dangerous because it’s an unpredictable and treacherous road. Who knew this better than Jesus?
Something valuable I have learned out of that request is that love is so much more than a feeling. Feelings are often misguided and unreliable. Love must be rooted in something more substantial, like commitment. For example: I love my husband, but sometimes my feelings for him are varied. Sometimes I feel affectionate and sometimes I feel angry, and sometimes those two feelings happen simultaneously.
I think (hope) that I have come a long way from the lost and broken little girl I once was. But then sometimes I wonder how far I actually have left to go. Healing is a process that requires grace and time. The older I get the better I can see that time is relative. And the more I grasp the relativity of time, the easier it is for me to take life’s challenges in stride.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Back to discussing my need for encouragement. Most of the time I think that I’m above this need, like when I listen to my self-reliant side. But more than that independence, I think that most of the time I am really just confident in my callings. Not confident in a prideful way, but more in a faith-led way. This is why I am so cautious to commit myself to things, especially in ministry. I want to be sure, and I don’t want to waste my energy investing in something I shouldn’t.
Yet sometimes, somehow, inevitably weariness creeps in. And I do not handle weariness well. It makes me want to close up like a clam and shut everything that’s sucking my energy out. Endurance is by far the most challenging of all physical and spiritual matters. But this is where love and commitment comes in. Even when I don’t feel like pressing on, I know I must.
So tell me friend, what in life needs your perseverance?
Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God. (Martin Luther)