It started the day after Christmas, right?
Green, red, silver, and gold glitter from Christmas decorations were still sparkling on the floors of stores everywhere when the first “heart” was spotted. The advertisements began then and have been endless since…. chocolate and other kinds of candy, cards, flowers, gift certificates for massages or pedicures or hair appointments, jewelry, fishing/boating equipment for men, gym memberships, shoes, clothes, fancy dinners… the amount of options for gift-buying for that special someone literally is unfathomable.
I won’t lie. My favorite things ever are for someone to buy me coffee and to receive flowers, even if they are those ones that I call “flowers” that are actually very pretty weeds. You could stop on the side of the road, pick me some pretty weeds, put them in a simple vase, and I’m floating on cloud nine. Valentine’s Day or just a regular Wednesday. CLOUD NINE.
Even though I love gifts (it’s one of my love languages), it’s more about the thought behind the gift for me. (I mean it takes some work to stop what you’re doing, pull your vehicle over on the side of the road, fight traffic… all for a weed for this crazy gal).
All this to say, for a while now, I’ve been thinking about love. What does it mean? Does it mean gifts? Words spoken? Actions? How should it be expressed? How do people receive it? How should I give it? What does it look like? Is that cats meowing I hear? The thud of my cane hitting the floor, echoing in a house I share with only those aforementioned cats?
Sorry–tangent–can you tell I’m a single almost 26 year old? 🙂
I’m certainly no expert on the subject (as y’all can tell by the cats and the canes), but a recent experience has shed some light on this concept called love.
I’m in the choir in my church, and we are good ole Southern Baptists. We love to sing contemporary songs, but we also love those good ole Southern Baptist hymns as well. We were singing one of my favorite hymns this past Sunday… Oh, How I Love Jesus. The lyrics go something like this:
There is a Name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest Name on earth.
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!
It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.
t tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild
It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.
It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.
It bids my trembling heart rejoice;
It dries each rising tear;
It tells me, in a “still small voice,”
To trust and never fear.
Jesus, the Name I love so well,
The Name I love to hear:
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.
This Name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.
And there with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love for me.
I sang these words as I looked out on the congregation (big, fancy word that means the other people in the church building with me), and I was appalled at myself.
I was singing these words about the love that I have for my Savior and the love that He has for me without a smile on my face, without a bounce and a sway timed right to the beat, without joy and thanksgiving in my heart.
Every excuse ran through my mind… I’m just tired. I have a lot on my plate… spending time with God, studying Scripture to use with my Sunday school and Discipleship classes, work, school, trying to get blog content out frequently, meal prep as a vegan, spending time with family, drinking plenty of water, cleaning, working out… you know… just juggling everything and being exhausted by the end of the week.
Then, I thought of that National Championship football game played earlier this year. My beloved Georgia Bulldawgs up against that C****** T***. (Can’t even bring myself to type the words). I remember staying up until past midnight only to have my heart ripped into a million pieces… violently. I remember, in the earlier parts of the game, rejoicing, chanting our fight song, jumping, standing, hands raised to the sky…. even though I was tired from a long day.
Why wasn’t I having that same reaction at church?
A football game got more of a reaction out of me than singing about my Savior and the ultimate love story.
Many times, I walk into church with other things on my mind. I’m not mentally present to worship the Lord even though my body is physically in church. I have a sour look on my face like I’ve been sucking lemons instead of a huge grin because I have the privilege and honor of attending church, of worshipping my Savior, of learning more about my Lord and growing my relationship with Him.
I don’t know how I continued singing with all these thoughts going through my mind. I’m sure my choir director was thinking, “Get it together, girl!” All I could think of was Psalm 100:
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
That day, I couldn’t say I was shouting. It was more like mumbling.
I couldn’t say there was joy or gladness or thanksgiving or praise in my heart.
What I could say was there wasn’t much worship going on, and I certainly wasn’t showing my love to and for my Savior.
I’m going to be brutally honest. That’s about as far as I got with this blog post, and then I was stumped. Where was I going with this? Does this expose what love is? What love isn’t? Where are the words at, Lord? How do I tie up this message in a nice, pretty, red bow… right in time for the holidays?
Did I mention my love for coffee?
Earlier today, I stopped by this quaint coffee shop in the town that I work in called S’Moore Coffee. If you have a minute, you should definitely check it out!
As the caffeine touched my heart, Jesus touched my soul.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.1 John 3:18