This was what the tattoo read on the inside forearm of the cashier I met at a new local deli. The phrase itself was a surprise when I asked to read it, but what was even more striking was its grammatical dressing: a simple period. No exclamation point, no “…” or even a blank, open, unending ending. The “.” was on purpose. This is all that’s needed. Period.
Love Them More.
I didn’t even know what her intentions were when she chose to have these words and that one poignant period etched painfully into her skin, but I liked it already. Then I asked her and with a smile she said, “You know, like turn the other cheek and stuff like that. Be the bigger person. Love Them More.” Aha!
Jesus – Your words are still popular with young people. Even if they don’t know you said it first.
Pastor Tom spoke on this very thing Sunday…what was my take-away again? “Paul wrote a prayer for this scrappy group of church planters in Philippi when he sent back his letter, “…it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…”. (This was my take-away, Tom didn’t say “scrappy”.)
Like the nerd I am sometimes, I told her, “Oh that’s cool (nice 90’s reference), I just read in the Bible a prayer that a group of people would experience their love abounding more and more!” She looked un-thrilled. My lunch friend bounced back with me on it and our lively conversation did end up drawing the cashier in further, so maybe not all was a thud.
Love Them More.
But I wonder where she gets her love from for those who have rejected her or “struck her cheek”?
Where do you get your “love” from? Do you force positive thoughts about others, or do nice things for them (like cook Thanksgiving dinner) even though you’d rather chunk something at their head? Not that I get these thoughts. Though if I stretch for an example, there was this one time…
Yesterday on Facebook, I happened to graze over to a green-grassy page that displayed comments and pictures of women I admire –celebrating how much they love and value each other. It was precious. Really! But. I wasn’t included! (Now, I’m about to launch into total self-me-only-me mode in flight and I forgot to pack God’s love with me, so buckle up because it’s going to be rough air.) This is essentially what my brain plane ride was like for several minutes: “Here I am working and serving for and with women, giving and praying, (bump, bump – rough air), Lord I’m not making a difference and women aren’t including me in their special groups and gatherings (insecurity nosedive). Lord, do you care that I feel rejected, alone, like I’m going nowhere and friend-less?” (Small pilot interruption here – take note that I do reference my “lunch friend” in the earlier story – but who can get a grip on logic when insecurity has hijacked your brain!) “Everyone else has friends, groups and connections, but me, and it’s probably because I’m too intense, too spiritual, too loud, still some overweight, my hair isn’t up-to-date and I still say “cool”, I come off preachy (oh my Lord, this is actually probably true -- help me Jesus!), I didn’t go to the right group or serve on the right ministry…”, and on it goes until I crash into a big ugly tear-stained self-pity pile. A total friend-magnet by the way.
A tattoo reminding me to ‘love them more’ just won’t cut it sister! My love is tainted by my toxic me-centered self!
Back to Sunday, with Pastor Tom, I recalled where things really started to get good. Tom said, “Aren’t you glad it’s a prayer?” Paul was offering a prayer that the scrappy church-planters in Philippi would have love abounding more and more. Am I glad it’s a prayer? I was ever so glad it was a prayer! If this was a command, or a principle we had to “obey” then I’m sunk. My love is toxic, and I need to get new pure love from another source that isn’t tainted by my insecurities. So, yes, I’m incredibly THANKFUL it’s a prayer Tom and Paul! I need God to give me this pure love first, and I need it more and more so I have it to give others.”
Then came the drumroll of good news with hope for this very thing, “…being filled by the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ…”. There it is, I must first “be filled” by God’s Spirit of love – which is a fruit of His Spirit that lived in Jesus and now lives in Jesus-trusters. (That’s my new word of the day.) Only then do I have love to give others – real love that is untainted by my soul-mess.
I don’t know where that well-meaning cashier gets her love, but if any of us try to muster up this love from a fountain in our own souls or minds, it’s tainted love. We have this hope though, that if we ask God, He will fill us to overflow with His love so that there’s more than enough to go around!
This Thanksgiving, I’m thanking God for you women. Your very existence leads me to pray and seek His face – for my filling and for God’s overflow. As you meet with others, remember they are giving you all they have to offer. The ones that hurt you, may have nothing but hurt inside of them, so they overflow it. Those who love with twists and pinches, only have this quality of love within them. Oh sisters! May we though abound in God’s pure love more and more, as we are first filled with it ourselves! And may others be attracted to this love and ask for seconds!
Posted on Wed, November 27, 2013
by Heather Yates