Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I deserve or love and serve

This must be a weakness for me because I think I have learned this lesson a few times already. My first poignant memory would be as a mother of two young children. I was nursing one while rocking the other early on a Sunday morning. I grew more and more frustrated that my husband was peacefully sleeping in the other room. He finally woke up, we got ready for church and all the while I steamed. We walked into church for choir practice..we were late and that was obviously his fault. What song was the choir singing. "As I have love you, love one another." Mentally I froze..I noted that they didn't sing..."as much as you feel justified love one another". That one moment has led to a lot of pondering.

I didn't learn quickly. It was only a drop in the bucket. I hadn't learned it enough to have love continually overflowing from my heart.

As a mother of seven children I have frequently been told that my hands must be full. My favorite reply is "you should see my heart!" I love the image of having a heart bulging with love. I have wondered more lately if there are not unused parts of our hearts just as there are unused parts of our brains. Perhaps these unused portions of our hearts can only be accessed when our hearts are pure, or without offense or anger. If we would choose to not give any place in our hearts for offense or anger just imagine how much room there would be for love. Too often I fear I am lulled into a calm security and then a palteau in which I become more worried about how much I am being loved, instead of how I can love those around me. It is true that I need to take care of myself, watch what I eat, exercise and in general try to take care of my health...unfortunately this sometimes turns to looking out for me.

Yesterday morning I was feeling down. I have been sick, my babies have been sick, I have gotten very little sleep. The weekend went by and I did not have a nap. Feeling frustrated and unloved I trudged through the morning, trying to rouse myself with house work, and mentally trying to shove the feeling of offense away. Then I recieved a phone call. My friends husband had died the night before of a heart attack. He was not even 40. My biggest worries were a couple of colds and a lack of sleep..

I have recently read a book called Left to Tell by Immaculee Iibagizia. This faithhful woman survived the Rwandan holocost by living in a 4ft by 6ft bathroom for 91 days-with six other women. During that time she overheard men telling of how they had killed her brother. Her mother, father and two brothers were all killed. She seems to have every reason to be angry, resentful, offended and seeking revenge. Miraculously she spent her time praying and learning English. I wonder how many times I have spent time and energy and heart space being offended even for "good reason". What could I have learned in that time? Immaculee now has a husband and two children whom she loves. She has not forgotten her family or friends. She felt she could mourn them more truely by loving then by hating. She has moved onward and upward, breaking a cycle of hate with the power of her love. "A soft Answer turneth away wrath" Proverbs 3:5.

"As I have loved you, love one another." What a simple, powerful, challenging phrase. How grateful I am that Christ doesn't love as much as He is justified, but instead loves unconditionally. I can visualize Him praying very succinctly in the Garden of Gethsemene, then talking a few step toward the cross, then he could freely turn back and glibbly saying-"that's about as much as you deserve." Logically I realize the falacy of wanting what I deserve. I am grateful heavenly Father's plan is not based solely on justice and fairness. Instead Christ prayed and died because His heart was overflowing with an amazingly complete love for each of us.

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