I wrote a speech recently. Not for a happy occasion, either. I have been given the privilege of addressing a group of parents who’ve all recently buried a child. As I sit here and type this post, speech day hasn’t yet come, but I’ve been practicing it. I can barely choke my way through some sections. I was tempted to take out my red pen and remove those chunks to make the speech easier to deliver.
If I did that, though, wouldn’t I be ripping out the heart of the speech?
Those sections will stay in, and with God’s strength, I will find a way to get through the entire speech with compassion and grace. I might even be able to hold onto my dignity, but if I can’t – well, I’ll survive that, too. There’s a certain kind of dignity in tears anyway, right? Tears shed over a worthy purpose, at least.
In any event, as I tried to transition my brain from a speech about grief to a post about romance, I kept coming back to that point. I could make the speech easier to deliver, but the words wouldn’t hold nearly the same impact – for me or for the people listening.
How often do we do that in our relationships? How often do we sanitize what we say to others because we want to make it easier? Because we want to protect ourselves? Because we don’t want to risk getting hurt?
That’s not the way love is supposed to be. Love is putting yourself out there, being real about your feelings and transparent in your vulnerability. Love is hugging and holding tight and sometimes doing wildly embarrassing things just so that the person you love knows how truly spectacular they are, how very much they mean to you.
I have a Bible verse on my business cards. It’s Romans 12:9a. There are a lot of different translations out there, but my favorite for this particular verse is the New Living Translation. It says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” Wow! What power in that! (Disclosure: This verse isn’t intended for romance. It’s meant to apply to how we live our Christian walk with all the people we meet along the way.)
Let’s not live our lives telling the people we love how we feel. Instead, let’s live it. Let’s live out our love each and every day so that no one will ever be in doubt. What an amazing impact we could have on the lives of those around us, and ultimately, on the world.
Oh to be able to love like that…
Alas, I’m human (shh, don’t tell my teenager I said that), and I haven’t been able to master this yet. Like a lot of people, I’ve found it easy to hold myself back in an attempt to avoid getting hurt. That’s not who I want to be, though, so I’m making a concerted effort to change. I want to be the kind of person who lights up a room when she walks into it. Not because I’m being chased by paparazzi and their flashing cameras, and not because I went overboard with the Bedazzler. Rather, because the light of Christ shines in me and through me, brightening even the darkest corners. I want to be so filled with love for the people God puts into my path that it can’t help but show in my eyes, my smile, and my actions.
Before I get there, though, I need to start here. At home. With the people who are closest to me. Will you accept the challenge with me? Will you love with abandon?
May you find joy and fulfillment along the journey!