Love Like Jesus: I think I got it.

This is where we hang a quick right out of nowhere as we are navigating our way through the blog life talking parenting. I’ve been thinking about what topic to cover since last week’s blog. But as I was sitting in church yesterday it hit me! Let’s talk about Jesus. I’m sure you are thinking… Jesus? Now this should be interesting… Yeah, me too. And I’ve started it several times and I keep hitting the delete button. Probably because it a super sensitive subject to cover and there are so many opinions and it makes me nervous to cover it. I’m just going to dive in and see what happens. Let me give you a quick backstory about why I think it’s on my heart and mind to share my thoughts with you.

I grew up going to church every Sunday morning and most Wednesday nights. One weekend we would attend First Baptist Church and the next weekend would attend the Kirkland Methodist Church with our grandparents (you know… divorced family). There were two things that were pretty non-negotiable, church and school. And you dressed up. Pantyhose and your church dress and those black patent leather shoes that were just uncomfortable. I am confident that I never left church without a run in those pantyhose and they itched terribly. As you can see in this picture, they’d given up on me wearing pantyhose and gave me the frilly socks instead in addition to a cute hat. I legit looked like a block in this picture… but  you can see I was a natural in the whole girly thing.

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When we went to church with grandma she would sponge roll our hair the night before and when you woke up… insta curls! Or in my case it looked like a really bad perm and the curls never fell like grandma said they would. It looked like a bad wig and the more you tried to brush it.. the worse it looked. I’ll spare you these pictures. Just trust me… it wasn’t flattering. I tell you all of this because it truly was a Sunday morning ritual. You know… everyone sits on the same row… same seat… every Sunday. Some of my greatest childhood memories revolved around Sunday’s. Even though they were both different experiences… the biggest thing I remember is family and that Sunday afternoons never seemed long enough.

I’m so grateful that my parents and grandparents laid the foundation to my faith. I say the foundation because there was nothing pushy about it and that’s where it all started. They simply took us there and they did it every week. When we had questions, they answered them. I believe that I fell in love with the music first. It just felt great to stand up and sing with others at the top of our lungs and mimic the older ladies.. like I was an opera singer. I learned about Jesus early on (ok… from here on out.. don’t fact check me… ) you know… in Sunday School and the books we would read and we also had some videos we would watch. I think back on all of that and look at the years between then and now. Have I attended church every Sunday? No. I actually didn’t go at all for several years… a lot of high school, most of college, and a lot after. I was hit or miss and mostly miss. But you know, I did actually join the choir two different times. I love to sing but I’d never been part of a choir… when the music director asked me what I sang… I was thinking… Karaoke? I still don’t know if I am an soprano, alto, tenor, or bass… I just knew I wanted to sing. Well, turns our that was intense. They love to sing and most of them read music all I wanted to do was join the congregation again and have impromptu car concerts.

Here’s where the nerves come in. I hope to convey my heart and not step on any toes. Church can be a scary place for me at times. Not just my church… any church intimidates me. Because I don’t go every Sunday and know everyone on a first-name basis… I feel like people are looking at me… like, “Oh Lord… she’s here… what’s she repenting for now?” Is it the church members? No! It’s just me being ridiculous and intimidated. I’m not kidding when I tell you that no matter how much I eat beforehand… my stomach will growl during church and it growls at the quietest times and it keeps getting louder and louder and the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Like I need something else to make myself stand out. When we stand up for praise and worship I have no idea what to do with my hands, so I fidget and I find that I’m tugging at my clothes.. what if my dress got tucked in my underwear when I went to pee and the people behind me are looking (Ya’ll…. I swear these are the things that go through my head) and not wanting to tap me on the shoulder and point it out. This hasn’t happened yet… but my point is… that’s what I’m thinking. I just feel like people are watching me. Judging me? I don’t know. But what I realized is it’s spiritual ADHD. I’m more worried about what others are thinking about me and I’m missing the whole point! When I can’t seem to keep my focus on the message, lately I’ve been using this time to reflect. Instead of looking at my phone during the meditation music (don’t judge haha) I’ve been using that time to reflect on the previous week or whatever thoughts are in my head and just practice being grateful. Trying to slow it down and just focus on being present.

I’m not there to show off my new outfit or just to fill a seat or to be seen. I’m there because I want to learn more about Jesus. I sometimes wonder if more people would stand up in church and raise their hands in praise if they weren’t afraid of what others would think. I also wonder how many people would come to the altar and bow down in silent prayer if they weren’t afraid whether or not someone watching them would speculate what was going on in their life that made them make the walk in the first place. If you’ve read my last 3 blog entries you are starting to see how much I analyze things. But my mind is going 90 to nothing. All the time. Out of nowhere, I’ll hang a right on you. Squirrel. Most of the churches that I’ve attended in my life have a part at the beginning of the service where you get up and walk around and greet those around you. This is the part I probably dread the most. Am I supposed to talk to the people I know or am I supposed to look for the person that is a stranger? Can you imagine walking into a church for the first time and someone not greeting you? My question is… are we talking to the people we know, the people that sit in the same seat every Sunday… or are we looking for the person we’ve never spoken to? So this week, I got up out of my aisle and walked 4 rows up and said hello to someone I’ve never spoken to. Did it unnerve me? Little bit.. but I couldn’t sit back and watch others wondering if they talked to a stranger unless I did the same thing.

I wonder how many people aren’t going to a church to learn more about Jesus simply because they are afraid about how they will be treated or perceived. This is where the current book I am reading came to mind… where do we stand when it comes to loving like Jesus?

I’ve recently finished reading a new book, Everybody Always by one of my favorite people, Bob Goff. If you’ve never heard of Bob, do yourself a favor and look him up. He has a way of sharing Jesus that isn’t intimidating for me. He has a way of painting the picture that not only makes me laugh and often cry but that challenges me. The big message that I’ve taken away is we should love like Jesus loves everybody with no restrictions. That we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what Jesus said and less time just loving people like he did. I want to love like Jesus. I want other people to see me and my acts and see Jesus in me. Think about it, I could never miss a Sunday or Wednesday service and preach the Gospel and tell people about Jesus all day long… but if what people see in my actions doesn’t look like Jesus.. am I really sharing Him? Will people want to follow me and learn more about Him? Bob talks about the people we show love to. Are you loving the people that creep you out? The difficult people? The strangers? The challenging ones? Or are you only showing love to the people in your circle? I’m guilty of that. It’s easy to see those people that need our love the most but to turn our heads and think it’s not our problem. I’ve spent a lot of time sharing my opinion on things and less time listening to others over the years. Bob talks a lot about the importance of being ‘with’ people.. truly being with them and to be present with people. I personally think that we complicate a lot of things that really are simple. And we tend to get off course… sharing what we think instead of just being with people. I know I do.

I’m working on being present over perfect. I’m working on less judgement and more love. The ones that we judge are the ones that need our love the most. I’m working on being more transparent and not being afraid to show my flaws. Trying to be perfect is exhausting and it sucks the life out of you. I’m working on a lot and I’m so far from being perfect and I’ve got a ways to go. But what I do know is that it’s pretty simple. Bob says, “I don’t know what color the gates of heaven are or who takes over when Saint Peter takes a day off. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be a long line of people waiting to get in. It will wind out the door like a long snake. Somewhere near the entry at the front door of the line, I’m betting there will be a guy who looks like Adrian. He won’t be checking for titles or degrees or accomplishments or how rich or poor someone was. He’ll be asking everyone whether they found their identity in Jesus and if they really were who they said they were during their lives.” I don’t have to have it all figured out because it’s already been figured out for me. I love the quote, “God isn’t asking you to figure it out. He’s asking that you trust that He already has.” Since reading this… I have to remind myself of this a lot. Stop allowing worry and anxiety to creep in because it has been figured out. My story has been written. The master plan is there.. I just have to have faith and trust in Him.

One of my favorite Everybody Always quotes, “God isn’t shaking His head in disapproval as we make our way toward Him. He’s got His arms outstretched, welcoming us home to Him with love. I bet if we could hear what He’s thinking, we’d hear Him whispering, “You’ve got this. Just keep moving toward Me.” So that’s my plan. I’m just going to keep moving toward Him. There will be bumps and there will be times that I get off course. I don’t have to have it figured out. I just have to trust that He has. And my job is to love everybody, always… and that’s what I plan on demonstrating with my kiddo. Our job is to just love others like Jesus does. Trying to figure out the rest gives me spiritual ADHD…

If I keep re-reading this … I’ll keep editing and second guessing myself… so instead, I’ll just publish it…. and keep it simple.

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