May it start and end with LOVE

I haven’t written here for a while because whilst I have started posts nothing seems to have been coming very easily or felt quite right so I figured better to leave it than to force it. But recently I have had lots of thoughts going round my head although I am not sure quite if and how they fit together or how to put them into words so I hoping that by starting to type they will come and make some sort of sense or maybe this will be another of those posts that is started but never quite finds its end.

The thoughts going round my head are all rooted around expectations, perfection and love. I think in my head they probably do somehow fit together so here goes trying to work out how.

One of the prayers I try and start each day with is a prayer that my day will be marked with love, that I will be marked with love, in the way I interact with the people that will be part of that day ahead, be that colleagues, clients, family, friends or strangers. Some days it may be the only prayer I pray, and sometimes I pray it over and over again, but for me it is one of the most important prayers I can pray.

“Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.”  1 Corinthians 16 vs 14

The older I get, the more of life I experience, the more I continue to try and find my place in this crazy world the more I know that my biggest passion in life is people, relationship, connection – for some it may be sport, music, art, or cooking that gives them life, for me it is people – real, honest and soulful conversation – heart and guts! I love those life-giving connections, I love loving people.

However, the last year or so I think my idea of what that prayer to be marked with love really looks like has changed dramatically. I know that for a long time I bought into a fluffy notion that if I did my best to love well, everything would be beautiful and perfect, relationships would always be easy and lovely – which in reality I found to be a one-way ticket to disappointment. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that love is powerful and has the power to heal and transform but for me the change in the way I see that prayer working out is that yes love is beautiful, transformative, life changing, redeeming, restorative among so many other things, but rarely does it come without mess, without struggles and wrestles, rarely is it is easy. And actually I have come to embrace that imperfection and to celebrate it.

I read this in my devotional (DVO Devotionals), the other day, which I just loved:

“Living a life of love is inconvenient, messy and often controversial – it will wondrously mess you up.”

I have also learnt that I do not have to keep striving to try and be perfect to live a life of love. Or that the impact of loving well does not have to wait until I am perfect or reach a state of perfection in certain areas of life. I am not prefect, so far from it. My imperfections could fill a book. I am over emotional, I am an over-sharer, I get tired and impatient, I think mean thoughts, I can be selfish, I spend too much money on clothes – the list could go on and on. There are some days where I get the being “marked by love” thing very wrong, when I am tired, or frustrated, days where I lack grace or patience, where I respond out of my own insecurities, where I want to be anything but loving.

 

Part of my story is that continuing to strive to try to be perfect, to have it all, to do it all only made me poorly. Yet I still find myself every now and again striving for perfection. On New Year’s Eve I had a total wobble. I felt overwhelmed with loneliness and I couldn’t really understand why as there were a whole host of people at the touch of a button or a short car journey away. I was chatting with a close friend on text and shared this wobble and then immediately felt vulnerable for telling them, and got myself into a spiral of beating myself up for being too emotional and for sharing that weakness. That friend very patiently and very lovingly reminded me that that emotion of loneliness was not who I was, that weakness was not who I was, yes I may have those moments, and yes maybe those moments made me less that perfect but they did not stop me being good enough to love well. He spoke the words over me that I was a child of God, that I was worthy, I was valued and that was how he and God saw me.

I do not have to be perfect to be marked with love, to love people and to make a difference through that love and neither do you. Yes there may be days where we have to say sorry, to say we got it wrong, to have to start again with the love and yes there are days where we get it really right and it feels amazing but I am increasingly convinced that wherever we are on any given day that if we always start with love, choosing to be marked with love then the foundations of all we do, whether we get it right or wrong, will bring beauty.

Since losing my lovely daddy I have reflected a lot on who he was and how he lived his life. We are a pretty real family and we have had a lot of honest conversations over the past few years about how wonderful my daddy was but also about the fact he had his weaknesses, his struggles and his insecurities but none of those things take away from the fact that he loved us well. He didn’t have to be perfect to impact our lives, in a massive way, in the biggest way, with his love.

The same is true with the majority of people I love – I love them fiercely, but not because they are perfect, I see their weaknesses and struggles but it doesn’t stop the depth of what I feel for them, it doesn’t stop me seeing all the amazingness which makes up each one of them. It doesn’t stop them impacting my life in big and small ways every day.

Love is messy. I am messy. We are all messy. It has been my biggest lesson of 2017. You have to be brave to love and to keep loving. If you let people in, if you have those vulnerable and real connections then there will be mess, because we are broken people – you don’t have to scratch the surface too much with any of us to find the mess. And those messes may be hard, they may be painful and frustrating but give me that mess any time over superficial.

My three words for 2018 are SIMPLICITY, CONNECTION and ADVENTURE. In terms of simplicity I think it will be a journey this year for me to work out what that means for me and how that plays out in my life but the one thing I do know starting out at the beginning of this year is that I need my life to be simpler, I want to be marked by love more and more, I want it to be the beginning and the end in my life, I want less of the stuff and more of the things that matter, those connections with people that are little glimpses of heaven, despite my imperfections, and something tells me it is there, in the messy business of loving people, the best way I know how, I will find the adventures I crave.

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