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I’m not sure when this happened to me, but let me know if this has happened to you:

At some point, Love became a word associated with the culmination of an expression.  God’s love for the world was “cemented” through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  The apex of the life of Jesus was love.

And in a way, love became unattainable.

How many of you have heard this statement?

“Christianity has to be about more than just good values.  It has to be about more than just being a good, loving person.”

And in a way, now love is not enough.

Ugh!  Who doesn’t want to love and be loved in return?  If love is either not enough or entirely unattainable, what am I doing in life?  Am I just spinning my wheels?

Every fiber of who I am says NO!  Love is attainable.  I have felt it in my life and the feeling is so amazing that I want everyone to experience it in their lives.  Love is enough.

This isn’t to say that love is easy.  If it was easy to love our neighbor as you would love yourself, Jesus probably wouldn’t have had to make it the number 1 commandment.

But what is love?  I want to use the term love as an umbrella term.  By this I mean that the term love encompasses or includes all the terms and actions that might also be defined as kindness, familial love, romantic love, friendly love and many more.

Take 5 minutes and do the following:

Take out a piece of paper, draw a large umbrella on it.  That umbrella is love.  On that paper, on the umbrella, under the umbrella, where-ever is most meaningful for you – write down as many words as you can think of that are encompassed in the word love.

I did this experiment for just five minutes just now and came up with the following picture*:

IMG_2693

*And now you’re all reminded why I’m not an artist 😉 Is it a flower, is it an umbrella?  It’s abstract.  You get it.

If you’re comfortable sharing, leave a comment below and share your drawings or just a list of a few of the words/actions you came up with that correlate or comprise the term Love.

One final thought for today:

In my counseling practicum, we often talked about an idea we termed “both/and”.  We would often use this term when we were working with indecisive clients.  “Should I do this or this?” a client might ask.  “Would you find healing in one or both of those solutions?” I might ask.  Usually what would happen is the client would say something which indicated that both would help them take necessary steps towards healing, but that it wouldn’t be complete healing.  “No problem, ” I would respond “and what else do we need to do, then?”

Both/and is how I approach love.  Love is both this amazing gift from God, and the purist expression of that love may only be attainable by God.  Love is in the small things that we do for one another – tipping our waitress, not screaming at the person who just cut you off, not huffing and puffing in line when someone at the front is taking forever. Love is also the sacrifices that we make for our family and children, to put their needs in front of our own for a period of time.  Love is both a small action and a large action AND it is something even bigger and better.

Love is the one resource that is abundant and never finite.  You can always ask God for more love.  You can always ask your friends and family members for more love.  That love may not come in the language or the form that you are expecting or that most easily speaks to you – but there is always more love.  That love may not fix everything – it may not take care of your basic needs of food, shelter, and water.  It is not an immediate cure-all.  But, if we love our neighbor we will want to provide them with the basics in life.  If we love our neighbor we will want the best for our neighbor.  If we provide these things to our neighbor, aren’t we loving our neighbor?

What will you do today to respond to the call to love your neighbor?  Can you point to one thing on your umbrella of love and strive to complete that action or that term today?

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