Last weekend Kevin and I had the joy of attending church first with our sweet girl in Spokane and also with our Caleb in Portland. It gets even better.
When in Portland, we love attending A Jesus Church, located smack downtown and attended by a multitude of twenty-something hipsters. They let us attend in spite of our age and lack of “hipsterness.” Imagine my excitement when I discovered the speaker that evening would be David Lomas, author of The Truest Thing About You, a fantastic new book I had finished reading just that day on the plane.
Lomas writes, “Amid all the true things about you, there is one thing that is the truest.”
You see, who I am doesn’t change based on my ideas or actions or the words I speak. Who I am has always been fixed. I am God’s child, beloved, made in his image, made to walk with him – in love – through the mess of this world. This is who I am always. It is the truest thing about me. And I am perfectly happy believing this about myself, but do I also believe this about my “enemies”?
Because I am not made to only walk in love with my God. I am not made to only walk in love with those who agree with me, with those who look like me. I am made to walk in love with all people. Even when I don’t want to. Even when we are unbearable to each other. Even with those who choose hate over love. Mostly, I don’t feel like walking in love with those who think hate is acceptable.
You've noticed, I'm sure, that there is a surplus of hate in this world. Well, that hate, that darkness has been right in my face this week. There has been no avoiding it, no pretending it isn't there and directed at those I love. When the darkness is that close, it's easy to let anger creep in. It's easy for me to let kindness and love drift away.
I so desperately need Jesus to teach me how to return hate with love, forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, patience, peace and that oh so difficult one for me, self-control.
Author Oz Guinness says, “We are never freer than when we become most ourselves, most human, most just, most excellent, and the like. Yet, if this is the case, freedom has a requirement: To be ourselves, we need to know who we are.”
I want to make my way through life in a way that shouts, “Do you know you are loved? Do you know you are valuable? Do you know you have a place in this world?” I don't know any other way to dilute hate except to flood it with love.
“Define yourself radically as beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child