Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Five Stories - Part V

“Love one another”. Three simple words. A simple call to action that Jesus gave his disciples just before He physically left this world. It’s funny how such simplicity can have such a huge impact in your life. When I first began writing these “Five Stories” blogs, I was spending several evenings just observing people. Hanging out in my favorite Starbucks, I sat, watched, listened and sipped on iced coffee. Observing culture. Thinking. Praying. But I found that as my thoughts transformed into words on my laptop, my heart began to transform as well. And more importantly, my thoughts about God began to change. They began to expand and yet also simplify. Grasping who God is and how He functions in our lives is not easy, is it? And as I began to meditate and study about what Scripture says about love, I began to see that grasping what love is, and how it functions in our lives is not any easier.

The Bible is filled with literally hundreds of references to love. So I guess it should be no surprise that one of those references simply reads, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) And the simplicity of those words makes me wonder. Perhaps by expressing something so familiar, God is giving us a glimpse of the unfamiliar. Could it be that God and love are so intimately intertwined that this attribute encompasses all that He is? His very existence? God in a nut shell, so to speak? Kind of puts a different twist on the whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing, doesn’t it? (Matthew 19:19) But think about that for a moment. I don’t know about you, but it becomes very difficult to love others when we are constantly obsessing over our own imperfections. Loving ourselves does not come easily these days; especially when media inundates us with how imperfect we are. And as I write this, I point the proverbial finger right back at me.

Well, the final story of “Five Stories” revolves around a little Asian woman that seems to live on the fringe of society. She frequents my local Starbucks and although I’ve seen her many times, I don’t even know her name. She appears out of nowhere, and then just like that, she just disappears. Sometimes she smiles and makes eye contact, looking just as normal as the next person. Other times she looks disheveled and just stares blankly into space. She’s an older woman and doesn’t really talk. I’ve tried several times to start up a conversation, but usually I just get a smile and maybe a brief “Hi”. To be honest, I didn’t even know if she spoke English. But after being inquisitive, as I usually am, one of the regular baristas at Starbucks confirmed that she did. But what catches my attention most is her erratic behavior. Sometime she’s there, and other times she’s not.

After a little more investigative work, I learned that this woman has severe mental problems and wanders around the area on a regular basis. Sometimes she talks with the baristas, and other times she just sits there. Her family usually comes to get her and bring her home, but most of the time she just sort of wanders around. She takes medication that apparently has a huge effect on her mental state. One day she made her way into someone’s open car, apparently just to take a load off. I laughed when one of my barista friends told me of how the customer came to the counter and asked, “Umm, could you please ask this woman to get out my car?”

“Love one another”. How does this connect with all this stuff about love? Well, one day as I watched this woman, I found myself wondering what she thinks about herself. Does she love herself? More importantly, does she feel loved by others? And those thoughts brought me full circle on all these rambling thoughts of love. Loving ourselves comes from a deep realization of how much we are loved by God. As we become aware of His love for us, and that He is love, we are able to express that love to others. But what is most important is becoming aware of His radical, unlimited and passionate love for us. That’s the starting point. How can love not pour from us when the God of the universe is literally drowning us in His love?
But here’s the key: Do we believe that He loves us that much? Do we realize it? Internalize it? Allow it to consume us, direct us and guide us? I’m sorry to say that most of the time, I’m afraid we don’t. At least I don’t. And because of that, I have a tough time loving myself. And I can’t help but think that people like this strange little lady, have a tough time feeling love because we cannot first love ourselves. And many of us as just as lost as she appears to be.

1 comment:

Stephen Ley said...

It's amazing the little dramas unfolding all around us if we just have eyes to see.