Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I've been meaning to write, but my heart and head have been all over the place. When word broke that a coworker passed away onsite last night, I felt it was finally time.


You know, I look at social media posts and comments all the time, and it occured to me that we still have no idea what love really is. I like to think I show it. I like to think I'm known for it. I've traveled across the country just to show that I care. I've traveled to the next cities over to show one person that I appreciate them. I've spent countless hours and dollars just to reach out. I also have to fight the pride that comes with that when things don't work out. But no matter how much I have done, or will do, I still have no idea what love is in its purest and perfect form. It's a subject I write about a lot, but I'm still learning it. And judging from said posts and comments, it's clear that a lot of us don't. And I hate to call that out, but it's true.

We talk about what the perfect guy, or girl, is like all the time. But all that's really doing is saying we want these qualities and it doesn't matter who it comes from. We value the actions more than the person. We think that what the "right person" offers is more valuable than who they are. Better yet, we are more concerned with having a partner than we are deepening our friendships.

And then we read about a tragedy and fall apart. We talk about how great that person was or how much of a difference they made. But I've noticed that it's only that time when we talk about the difference being made. It's only in tragedy when those people are mentioned or recognized. We talk about how awesome that person was AFTER they've passed away and never when they were alive.

I get that's not always the case, but from what I see it's mostly what happens. I admit, I'm guilty of it, too.

Tragedies suck.

When I read the news about Christina Grimmie, I cried for like an hour. And I would tear up thinking about it for the past week. I knew nothing of the girl. I've only seen a few covers she did, but I knew I loved them. There were countless other people who actually followed her and knew what she was up to.

Again, tragedies suck. They're painful. They're hard. We have a really hard time dealing with them because they're unexpected. We're much more at peace when we know it's coming...... but when we don't, it's much harder to deal with. They leave us asking why. They leave us sad and angry. They leave us fallen apart and broken. And they're inevitable. Anything can happen at any day at any time. And there is so much we take for granted because of how unexpected they are.

And here is where love also kicks in. Has your heart ever grieved upon reading tragic news about a stranger? I will tell you now that if your answer is no, you haven't truly loved. We have all painted this picture of love in a beautiful setting, but that is only one face of it. Expecting love wrapped up in a perfect bow is a horrible way of viewing it. It's messy and chaotic and sacrifical and hard.

Love is hard. We think it's easy and in some settings it comes naturally, like with parents and children. Sure, it's easy to make time and invest in those areas. But if we're not doing it for strangers, people who've hurt us, or people who disagree with us, then we're really just keeping love in a box. It exceeds beyond just that wrapped up box.

Love is sacrificial. It means that you have to stop just looking at yourself and see the people in front of you. It means meeting needs instead of your wants. If someone is hungry, do you feed them? If someone is thirsty, do you give them a drink? If someone is hurting, do you wash their wounds? If someone is cold, do you offer them your coat?

Love casts out fear. It makes me sick to think that our nation's leaders want to shut out the land of the free to those who have been misplaced. Those who have lost their families to terrorists or war. Those who have nothing but the clothes on their backs. They get shut out because of a few bad apples. Guess what? You will always have that no matter what community you are a part of. Christians, LGBT's, Muslims, African Americans, and so on and so forth. It doesn't matter. There's always going to be someone out there that gives the wrong impression of everyone else in these. And yet, we cower in fear when those bad apples pop up.

I believe Jesus is the answer. In Him only do we find perfect peace, perfect rest, and perfect life. He guaranteed there will be trouble in this world. Why? Because sin exists. But it's only through Him that we can continue on, because He is the one who puts us back together when we fall apart. His heart breaks with ours. His heart hurts with ours. He didn't promise to provide an exit plan for all the crap we face. He promised Himself. And before we ask why He just doesn't prevent the crap, let's think about what we really want through it all......

We all want someone to be there for us. To be there when it all hits the fan. To stick around when we mess up. We all want someone to never leave us. That's what He offers to be.

So when you're sitting there thinking you have it all together and understand love. I'm going to tell you that maybe you should take a good long hard look at what love really is.

I'm guilty. I'm still learning about it. And crazy enough, I even learn about what it looks like when tragedy hits.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I absolutely love to give gifts. I love that I know what simple gifts to pick out, but I really love spending time and thought on giving the perfect gift. I'd like to say I don't know why, but that isn't true. Actually, I realized the exact reason why very recently.

I believe good gift giving is an act of loving well.

One of the best gifts I've ever been given was a cd. I was probably 18 at the time, and it was a Christmas gift from my best friend at the time. I remember using a gift certificate I was given to get her an address book. I could ave gotten her something different, but I remembe her saying she needed one. So, I regifted a gift to get her gift. She, on the other hand, was only given a certain amount to spend. I opened up the wrapping to the only cd by my favorite group that I didn't have. She knew I loved them. She knew I didn't have all their cd's. She took a guess and hoped that was the one I didn't have. And she was right. I remember that I couldn't believe it. I was so blown away that she spent a good chunk of her Christmas spendings on the one thing I really wanted. I would have loved it still even if it was a cd I already had. I would have loved it because she knew I loved the group.

I have seen a lot of posts that ask ladies the question if they would accept a marriage proposal if the ring was given out of different scenarios. I actually like to see what people say about it, and the majority say yes because the ring shouldn't matter. For me, it does matter. I happen to not like yellow gold. If a man wants to convince me to spend my life with him, I would hope that he wouldn't ask me with a yellow gold ring. Having a ring doesn't matter, but the actual ring does. I'm not a gold digger, but my man better know me enough, and pay attention enough, to know what I like and don't like.

I believe a requirement for good gift giving is loving well... and in order to do that, you have to pay attention. You can know I like a million things... which I practically do. But I know you pay attention when you know the things that really matter, and you respect it. You don't have to understand why I love it, you just have to respect it. I don't have to understand why you love something... I just have to respect it. There are gifts I've given that I would never get for myself. I'm sure the same rings for you and gifts you've given. But what matters is that attention has been paid.

You listen, you watch, and you remember. You get to know the person by doing these three things. Almost every detail matters because it all blends together. I never really understood that details matter until I started following a specific artist/author who is all about details. I started paying attention to how much the God of the universe paid attention to the matters of my heart. The gifts He's given me are the ridiculous ones I've asked for. Just by observing that, I learned more of just how much He loves me, how much the things that matter to me matter to Him, and how much He's not so farfetched that you can't ask for something ridiculous.

Listening matters. Paying attention to small details matters. Getting to know a person matters.

So if you want to get the perfect gift for them, stop worrying about what they might like and see them for who they really are. It makes all the difference in the world.