I am struggling to love well.
This big dream I shared a few weeks ago that felt like a small dream — to do whatever I do with a heart of love — yeah, it’s probably a big no-duh to you, but it’s hard. And I was right the first time: it’s big.
After the retreat high and all the dream talking and the trying to see beauty and accept my human imperfection and receive new mercies, I am worn out. I am limp as the cloth hanging across my sink, as drained as the milk jug that’s dripped its last drop into the bowl of cereal.
Maybe for two reasons, probably lots more:
One, loving is hard work, and so doing it wears me out.
Two, I struggle to ask for what I need, which might mean that, even more, I struggle to receive what I need. When I can’t feel the love coming in, I feel the pull of all the love that’s coming out.
Let me say: I know that I cannot do life with a heart of love without God living in and through me. I know that opening my home and tending my children and teaching and classroom volunteering, or whatever — it’s all filthy rags, a clanging racket if it is without love, and so I am trying (in messy and imperfect ways) to allow love, and not obligation, to be the foundation and overflow of my doing.
And I am trying to soak up God’s words and his encouragement and his adoring and learn what it means to allow Christ to shine straight through my cracks, receiving that it is gift and not failure when he is my strength in weakness.
Yet, friends, all this trying, and I still feel wrung dry and confused.
In the midst of lots of other stuff that sits in my head bowl with the clarity of fog, I’m starting to think that in my desire to be “used” by God I may have been praying a prayer and thinking a thought that needs a little tweaking.
For years, I critiqued and challenged and questioned myself — after parties, coffee dates and times of giving, berated myself with, “Why did you say that?” and “She probably thought that you thought you were ___ .” Incessantly wondering if I were doing enough or serving enough or saying the right thing enough because I wanted more than anything to do and say what was generous and true and right and meaningful.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve released much of this self-critique and lots of the pressure, have developed some personal grace and have added a prayer before spending time with people that helped release me from thinking it all needed to happen by me. I’ve been entrusting God with my part in whatever the time would be with, “Lord, make me a blessing.”
Yet lately, nearly every time I’ve been with people, I — an extreme extrovert — have felt much more drained than full. Ugly and selfish as it might sound, I’ve had private pity parties, like I’ve been doing all the giving and getting next to nothing back. (I told you it’s not pretty.)
So here’s the thing I’ve been wondering about: while I believe that God desires to use my gifts and yours to bless others and that he does make us blessing, perhaps I would do well to remember that we already are a blessing.
And, with this, that we are also made to receive blessing. Every good gift, actually.
So today, maybe this is just for me, but perhaps you might need to hear that you are a blessing, formed by the hands of a loving God, imbued with gifts and purpose. Maybe you need to know you’ve got permission to cup those hands and cup that heart to receive the gifts being given by God and others to you, for you.
Today, may you know that as much as God delights in shining through you, he also loves shining on you.