Picking a “word for the year” has always been a challenge for me. As I’ve considered an annual word, I’ve never gotten clear on if it’s a word/action that I should focus on, or want to focus on, or if it just seems like a cool word. Then January would roll around…February…and I’d still be thinking about the word.
But this year, I really wanted to identify a focus. A truth that would lay a foundation for how I live my life in this particular season. How I move forward with my business … in this particular season.
And without a lot of fanfare, worry, or days of consideration, my foundation focus became clear…
Love God. Love People.
Now here’s the deal …
That just all seems so simple, right? And lofty. And “unmeasurable.”
It’s just where I need to be.
It’s easy to say, Love God. Love People.
It’s not so easy to do it.
Because loving God means that I love Him even when I believe He’s let me down.
And loving people? Have mercy.
Loving someone means that my words and actions reflect that love—even when that’s not easy.
Loving someone requires me to show up with Grace. Patience. Understanding. Mercy. And did I say Patience?
Sometimes the toughest love battles are fought in our own homes, right?
If love is patient and kind, if it is not rude and not easily angered, if it never fails …
Well. This is tough work. Because it seems easiest to show up without love to those we love the most.
In my world, it’s easy to lose patience when my mom’s cognitive challenges make me weary.
I can be rude very easily at 3:15 in the morning when she just wants some Vaseline on her lips.
I get angry at Alzheimer’s because of what it takes away.
My love doesn’t always show up with my physical presence. Know what I mean?
But please don’t misunderstand me.
I’m not complaining, and I don’t think I’m being too hard on myself.
I have learned – or am learning – to show myself Grace.
My story is no different than yours. We just each play a different role in our stories. We engage with different characters on a different stage set.
I believe we’re all trying to love well, often in circumstances that can bring out the “not so good” in us.
Today I read Matthew 5:44-48 from the Message translation. A few of the words felt a bit harsh, but it poked at my heart a bit and I think he’s on point.
“When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves. This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Love God. Love People.
All the time.