Small Things…Great Love

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     In my last blog post, I talked about my desire to take a more purposeful journey into loving well.

     A couple days after writing that post, I was asked to visit a woman in the hospital. I don’t care much for hospitals, and the thought of doing hospital visitation always feels uncomfortable to me. I recalled the words I’d written about challenging my comfort in order to love well. In my previous post I’d said, “Discomfort with my current level of loving presents a worthwhile challenge, and I purpose to lean into the discomfort.”

     All right, perhaps God was giving me an opportunity through this hospital visit to do just that.

     All the way to the hospital, I prayed. I asked God’s help to love well the woman I was about to visit. I prayed I might be a reflection of Christ’s caring and compassion. I thanked God I was considered trustworthy enough to partner in the Divine work being done in this woman’s life.

     My prayer was answered. I felt at ease in an environment that usually causes me discomfort. I realized my smile was warm and my words were grace filled—not because I was naturally inclined to be happy and gracious but because God’s love, joy and grace flowed through me as I talked to and prayed with this lady.

     Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

     I know my visit with a lady in the hospital wouldn’t qualify as a “great thing.” It was only one small act. But, I believe, because I challenged myself to “lean into” my discomfort and asked God to fill in the gaps of my inadequacy, I was able to do a “small thing with great love.”

     And, you know what? It felt terrific!

     What about you? I would love to hear about your experience in doing a “small thing with great love.”

     Blessings on your journey of loving well…

Sue Reeve

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A Journey into Loving Well…

     Generally, I get out of bed immediately in the morning, but last Monday, I enjoyed the luxury of lying beneath my warm, cozy down comforter, allowing my mind to wander at will.

     I started thinking about the next day, Valentine’s, including what dinner I’d like to prepare as an expression of my affection for my husband. We wouldn’t dish up our plates from the stove and watch the evening news, I decided.

     Instead, I’d set our little eating nook table with a red tablecloth, good china, and candles. I’d go buy Ron a ribeye steak to go with the heart-healthy scallops I’d purchased Sunday, as well as a tiny little cup of Hagen Das ice cream to go with the healthy berries I thought would work well for dessert.

     From Valentine’s Day dinner, my thoughts dove deeper into the matter of love. I no longer thought about love to let my man know how very special he is to me. Instead, I began thinking about the kind of love God desires me to exhibit, not only to those who are easy for me to love, but for ‘my neighbors’ throughout the world. Learning to love better is one of my heart’s deepest aspirations. I asked:

  • How can I better love those within the culture in which God has placed me?
  • How can I, a grandma living in North Idaho, display God’s love beyond the walls of my home, beyond the borders of my community—even though I realize these are important places to begin?
  • In the world in which I’ve been placed—a world filled with so much fear, friction and factions—how can I, an incredibly flawed woman, reflect God’s unconditional love in a way that makes a difference?

     My questions led me to get out of bed, go to my office and read 1 Corinthians 13, commonly called ‘the love chapter,’ in a variety of Bible translations and paraphrases. I liked the straightforward New Living Translation. I’m convinced these verses are the answer to loving in a more Christ-like and God-honoring way.

… Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance….

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (emphasis mine)

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 13 NLT

     Loving in a manner consistent with 1 Corinthians 13 is a ‘tall’ order, and I’m neither a particularly physically nor spiritually ‘tall’ lady.

     I confess, my desire to love better is often more aspirational than actual, but I refuse to allow my inadequacy to immobilize me. Starting with desire is an essential place to begin any behavior change, I conclude.

     Discomfort with my current level of loving presents a worthwhile challenge, and I purpose to lean into the discomfort.

     My progress to love more like the 1 Corinthians 13 description may not be dramatic, but I’m determined, as Emeril Lagasse would say, to “Kick it up a notch!”

     In writing this blog post, I realize many reading my words struggle with the same challenge. I’d love to hear how you are struggling—or succeeding—in your quest to love more like God. Until then, please know that I’m…

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Blessings on your journey of loving well…

Sue Reeve

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Please…Cherish Me!

Faint residues of a memory of Perfect Love seem to flit at the edges of human consciousness. Such memories are so weak that they are easily ignored. They remain, however, the core of our deepest desires…[1] David G. Benner

     One of my favorite-ever reads is a small book written by Dr. David Benner entitled Surrender to LOVE.

     Dr. Benner, a psychologist and spiritual director, is both scholarly and vulnerable in describing the lifelong process of surrendering to the unconditional love of God.

     I’ve struggled with a sense of feeling loved since I was a child. I was blessed with good parents. Meeting the needs of their four children was my parents’ highest priority. I knew my parents loved me, and yet, most often, I felt unloved.

     Thoughts about God’s love toward me were similar. I believed God loved me, but more often than not, I couldn’t trust God loved me simply for who I was.

     I carried my partially full love tank into marriage, and when my first marriage ended in divorce, I was more convinced than ever of my unlovability (an apt descriptor even though I realize it isn’t an actual word!)

     The first 10-15 years of my current marriage were marked by recurring incidents when I challenged my husband’s love. Almost without exception, every marital disagreement we had ended with me saying these words: “Ron, I just want you to cherish me!”

     After many years of these declarations, (my husband is a very long suffering man) Ron said something like this: “Sue, I think I cherish you. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone, but obviously, you don’t feel cherished by me.” Then, my husband asked me one of the most soul-searching questions I’ve ever been asked:

“If I could love you in a way that would make you feel cherished, what would that look like?”

At first, my husband’s question annoyed me. Like other women I know, I assumed my man should be able to figure out what my emotions needed and wanted!

     Yet, the more I thought about Ron’s question, the more I realized it was fair—actually, a very good question. More importantly, though, I sensed discovering the answer to his question was pivotal to demolishing my pervasive perception of being unloved and unlovable.

     I not only thought about that question. I began praying about it as well.

     Several weeks passed. One day, just as clearly as if gazing through a freshly-washed window, my ‘soul’ figured out the answer to my bewildered husband’s question:

No human being is capable of cherishing you in the way your deepest being longs to be loved. Only God is able to do that.

     In that moment my belief in God’s unconditional, never-changing love transitioned into trust.

     Dr. Benner poses a scenario and asks a question in the first chapter of his book: Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

     If I were to give Dr. Benner my answer, I’d tell him about the experience I had later on that same day I realized the answer to Ron’s question. While walking down the hallway in our house, I felt an overwhelming surge of love—nothing visual or tangible—but nonetheless, undeniably real. I was filled with such a profound sense of God’s love that I stopped in my tracks and said, “Wow! God you really truly cherish me, don’t you!”

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     Since that day some 20 years ago I’ve never once felt the urge to complain about Ron’s inability to ‘cherish me.’ I’m married to a terrific man. I know he loves me in the best way he can. But, Ron doesn’t have the capacity to love in the way only God can love. Every once in a while, therefore, I need to remind myself, ‘Hey, Ron’s just a guy!’

     My prayer for you this day is that you will in some way, on some level, sense the unfathomable love God has for you—a love that’s as high as the heaven is above the earth!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sue Reeve

  1. Surrender to LOVE…Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality, David G. Benner

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