Soul Food

I don’t love you like I should

I can pick you out in a crowd—the light in your eyes, the warmth of your spirit, the kindness of your actions. You are His, and I see Him in you.

Even though we may not know each other, we are part of the most beautiful, authentic, contagious community in all the world. We’re called by strange but cherished names: Bride, Body, Church.

Some communities are formed around perceived rights and shared indignation. Their fever-pitched cries are their bond. But we realize there is nothing good nor “rightful” in us apart from the God who loves us. So we do not yell. Rather, in quietness and trust is our strength.

And while we’re forgiven and freed from the power of sin, we’re still a broken bunch. We’ve misunderstood each other, been paralyzed by our anger toward one another, and wronged each other a thousand times. Our deepest wounds have come from within our own community, not from without.

Maybe because we expect more of each other.

Maybe because we’re just that broken still.

But like rocks in a tumbler, it’s our constant colliding into each other that smooths out our rough edges. And because of Whose we are, we know how to forgive—and how to be forgiven. How to move past our differences and into unity.

So I’m not ashamed to say, “I need you.” As the psalmist wrote, you are “the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” And in the apostle Paul’s words: “You are my glory and joy.” I’m no good without you. With you, I experience more of Him and the fullness of His life in me.

Jim Wilder said, “Some of our best characteristics can be harmful when applied too strongly.” You, dear ones, keep me from being too much Colleen. We are a diverse people with very different perspectives on how to navigate the tumultuous waters of life. But isn’t that the beauty of our bond? We agree on Christ but we still need our differences so that we become “less of us” and “more of Him.”

Beloved, we are His and He has given us each other. And He has sent us out to be His hands and feet to a world that needs Him desperately. We are Life-givers, Joy-starters, Peace-makers. To the spiritually illiterate all around us, we are His picture book of

love

joy

peace

patience

kindness

goodness

faithfulness

gentleness, and

self-control.

I write this for my own sake because my heart beats selfish and I don’t love you like I should. You are the stunning Bride of Christ, the apple of your Father’s eye, a work of impeccable art—yet too often I treat you as a hindrance to my happiness. (When, in fact, you are my happiness.)

In C.S. Lewis’ words:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

You, dear children of God, are anything but ordinary. You are blood-bought and beautiful, and the world’s loudest and strongest pale in comparison to you.

So I keep asking God to help me see you in light of your everlasting splendor and how to love you out of a deep-and-wide experience of His love.

Because without love, I’m nothing but a loud annoying noise. So-what if I’m wrong about the small stuff (even if that small stuff feels really big at the moment)? When the dust settles on my grave someday, I hope the commentary on my life is not “She was right,” but rather, “She loved lavishly.”