When I read about this week’s theme, one experience immediately came to mind. It happened nearly ten years ago, but it will forever live in my memory as love that rocked my world.
I had been living with a new roommate for a few months and though we didn’t know each other that well, we were on our way to a solid friendship forged through episodes of The Gilmore Girls. I happened to be walking through a tough season of friendship with some college friends, and one night I had a particularly difficult phone conversation that left me discouraged, frustrated, confused, and in tears. I did my best to tell this new roommate why I was so upset. We were definitely in the “establishing background” phase of our friendship. You know, the phase where you have to back up and explain pertinent background info for relationships, context for the current situation, and why a seemingly small thing is really a bigger deal? (For the record, I think this phase of friendship is exhausting, but almost always worth it in the end.) Anyway – I did all of that and she patiently listened until I wound down enough to go to bed.
I had to get up early the next morning for work and she had the morning off, so imagine my surprise when I awoke to freshly baked Amish Friendship bread (you know what I’m talking about, right?)! Seriously. This sweet roommate of mine had gotten up extra, extra early on her day off to bake bread for me! She left a short note saying she was praying for me & that she hoped I enjoyed the treat & then she had gone back to bed. So, when I came into the kitchen after a shower and getting ready, there it was. In all of its delicious glory.
Are you kidding me?!
The fact that it was Amish Friendship bread is funny, but it wasn’t the type of treat that got me. Or even how delicious it was in the car on the way to work. It was the reality that this new friend, had gotten up early on her day off to make and bake bread as a way to encourage me. She heard my hurt the night before and she made an intentional effort to buoy me for the next day.
I don’t know if she even remembers this act of kindness, and I’m certain if she does she doesn’t realize the impact it had on my heart, but it was really significant in that season of life. That offering of bread early in the morning was a Jesus type of love. I felt unbelievably cared for and knew I had done absolutely nothing to “earn” it.
As I’ve reflected on this memory in preparing to write this post, I’ve thought a lot Kate’s post about from earlier this week. She really hits at the heart of my own story: true love is often really inconvenient.
There is a laboring to true love.
It requires a choice.
It is not easy.
It very likely requires dying to self.
It will cost something.
My friend Ruth wrote a blog post several years ago that I recently stumbled across and she put it this way:
“I’d be a fool to think that loving another human being could be any easier than the example set by my Savior.”
Jesus gave up His life for those He loves.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
So why, when it comes to loving people well, do I fight to preserve my life, my preferences, and my desires above all else? When I seek my own good first, I will never love well. And that reality is weighty.
Love isn’t easy, but it is worth it. And I need the Holy Spirit to make loving others a possibility. I will not choose to put the needs of others above my own unless I am walking by the power of the Spirit – setting my mind on things above (Col. 3:1-4), finding life and peace as I set my mind on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 6:6-8).
And that? That requires an intentional shift on my part. A specific choosing to reorient my heart and mind each day (and often moment by moment). Not easy, but worth it. Inconvenient, but oh-so-helpful. Dying to self, but giving life to others. That’s how I want to love!
Jesus, help us to follow your example in how we love one another!