We Are But Love
Monica Bradford of Lee’s Summit, MO, USA
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. -Isaiah 58:11-12
Selfless living seeks the wellbeing of others above ourselves-loving outsiders as you do your family or tribe. That’s sometimes hard. I mean, there are times when it’s hard enough to love your family or your tribe. It can be work…when your partner is tired and grumpy or your kids are stomping around the house arguing and slamming doors. You start taking deep breaths, and pray for patience and remind yourself how much you love your family. And yet, you have this bond, this kinship, this deep-rooted love that gets you through. You gladly choose to heed the commandment to love. But the commandment also says to love your neighbor as yourself. I actually really like my neighbors so I thought I was doing pretty well with that one. But now I’ve got to love the outsiders, too, but I’m not sure I encounter that many outsiders. I might chat with other moms and dads at the bus stop, I cook, we eat, I take the kids to lessons and practices, we come home, go to bed, and start all over again the next day. My life is pretty contained within my tribe. I’m committed to living a life of love, to loving my neighbor…I’m just not always sure where to start.
And then I think of my friend Gwen. She once told me that she prays the paper as her daily spiritual practice. She reads through the stories and prays for the victims or those who are suffering. And then she prays for the perpetrators, or the ones doing harm. She’s sending her love and God’s light into the world, even when it’s really hard to do. Gwen is living a life of loving her neighbor.
My husband Steve feels this passion for camps and working with youth. So much so that one year when the kids asked him for a way to get together during the school year he started opening our home once a month and inviting them in. He laughed with them, and listened to them, and held them up when they were suffering. Many of those youth still schedule times to come by the house when they are on break from college just to reconnect. Steve is living a life of loving his neighbor.
My 11-year-old friend Hannah has organized events to raise money and food for those in need. When she was only five, she coordinated a talent show at her congregation and collected money and food because she wanted to help the “hungry children.” She gave the donations to the BackSnack program in her school district, a program that sends home a backpack full of food every weekend for students who may not have enough to eat when they don’t have a school lunch to rely on. Hannah is living a life of loving her neighbor.
Perhaps loving our neighbor is really about expanding our tribes in every encounter that we make. “…We’ve got Christian lives to live, we’ve got Jesus love to give. We’ve got nothing to hide, because in him we are but love.”
I surrender into your love, O God.
What might it look like to surrender a little to God each day? A simple prayer of surrender can help us become aware of God’s consistent invitations to deeper relationship and awareness. Imagine when you encounter a challenging person or situation silently uttering this prayer, “I surrender into your love, O God.” The same prayer can be meaningful in moments of joy and gratitude as a way of returning to the awareness of oneness with God. It’s ok if we don’t surrender everything all at once all the time. The prayer of surrender is a constant practice of returning little by little to the deepest love that is the ground of our being and desires wholeness and oneness for us and all creation.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.