Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fill 'er Up!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

The times during the week when I whine to God most, pretty much every week like clockwork, are Saturday night and Sunday morning before church. That's because I know I'm going to have to go to church and there are, like, people there. And while these people are all people I love, several of them are also people with whom I have very deep, emotionally intimate, and, yes, complicated relationships. Because that's what relationships are - well, real ones, anyway.

I live alone and work from home. As soul-crushingly lonely as my solitude can get sometimes (usually roundabout Friday night is when it really hits me), sometimes it would be easier to just hide away in my apartment with my poodle than put forth the effort of seeing people every Sunday morning. Because relationships take effort.

But God will just never, never, ever let me stay home. Or give up, for that matter.

One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, as I was begrudgingly getting into the shower, I was being particularly petulant:

"God, I don't want to go to church today! I don't want to see anyone! I am not feeling special! I am not feeling loved!"

"Well, that's not really the point, is it?" God shot back.


"You want love? You've got it. Right here. I've got all the love to give you that you'll ever be able to stand. You come to Me to get your love, and then you give it to other people. That's the point." He let that sink in for a second. Then He said, "Now get moving."

I mean, He was Very Firm about this. I feared a lightning bolt from the sky if I didn't keep getting ready for church, and Heaven knows you don't want to be hit by lightning when you're in the shower.

And, truth be told, I knew that already.

If God has taught me anything this year, it's that pride is way overrated. Self-sacrifice will get you much further in relationships than being self-righteous. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. If God tells you to, don't even be afraid to look stupid. A second of teetering out on the ledge is nothing compared to the absolute joy that comes with the healing of a broken relationship and the crumbling of emotional walls.

And even if you do fall, so what? The God of the universe is there to catch you.

I can tell you, though, I can't do it by myself. I don't have enough love or patience or energy in me to give what is required to make all of my messy, complicated, deep, rich, wonderful relationships work. Often, if I had a choice, I'd stay curled up in bed with my poodle, whose only requirement for loyalty is that I pet her and don't let her starve. But then I'd miss out on oh, so very much.

The secret is just what God spoke to me that Sunday morning - and what He constantly reminds me when I'm feeling wrung out or worn out or at the end of my emotional tether - that He has all the love I'll ever need. He is love. He has to fill me up first, and only then can I give love to everyone else.

Without Him, I have nothing in me to give. With Him, I have all the love in the world to give - and there's always more where it came from.

And all the effort - the vulnerability, the self-sacrifice, the climbing out on a limb and shakily stretching out your hands - is so totally worth it.


Emma said...

glad i read this. to be honest, it made me cry. but it's a lovely thought, to be filled with so much love to give, and to know that though we may not get it back in the same kind from those we give it to, that there is an inexhaustible source of love from which we can draw.

thanks, elisse!


Elisse said...

Thank you so much for your comment! I'm so glad my post spoke to you :)

Chris said...

i was gonna copy and paste the points i agreed with. then i realized that i'd end up copying and pasting the whole post :). another great one filled with wisdom!