This fall I have re-read Note to Self by Joe Thorn. For Advent I started The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus edited by Nancy Guthrie and revisited parts of Devotions for Advent from the Mosaic Bible. There is plenty to pull from those resources however, this life of trying to live in love is not a formula. It can be quite messy.
Love is an adventure and I have been on this adventure for 30 years when God first physically saved my life and then spiritually saved my soul 18 months short of 30 years ago. His never-ending, always and forever love is the reason why He rescued me. It is this Love that is hard to describe. In life we get glimpses of it. Like when I see the sacrificial love of my daughter and son-in-law care for their infant son, or my husband not just buying a homeless man a meal but sitting down and sharing the meal with this fellow human being, or witnessing the sun setting and expecting it to rise the following morning or someone rescuing a dog from the streets of PR. Personally, this year I have experienced friends reaching out to support me and being able to reach out and support others. Sometimes it is simply being there without a word but being very present.
There is something else that I would like to share. In both Note to Self and the Inner Voice of Love the authors are speaking to themselves, the former considers it preaching the Gospel to himself, and the latter calls it giving himself imperatives. In the last couple of years, I have been doing my best to engage in this affirming love talk to myself. A theologian that I consider wise says that we are the most influential people in our lives.
Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is like the first, he says, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” I have not heard too many teach on the second half of this very short command, but I am coming to realize how important it is to treat myself well. We have a friend who says she treats herself with exquisite care.
I had this experience right before I left for vacation. I did something really nice for myself. It was hard at first but afterwards, I was feeling more generous toward others. These actions don’t just happen, it first starts with a thought, and this thought then brings about what I will tell myself. I had to wrestle with myself, the first excuse is, “You don’t have time for this. There is so much to do to get ready for this trip.” and then, “There is time in this day to do something nice for myself.” I needed help from a few friends. One said, “There is enough time in God’s universe for you to do something a little nice for yourself.”
So, even though I have known how to “take care of myself” for some decades now, I am still learning to practice good self-care. I believe it starts with these reminders of who I am in God’s kingdom, what I need to do in order to stand tall in that identity so that I might be able to express the love and care to my neighbor that I have for myself. It is not in a selfish way. It is more in a the Airplane is going down, put on your own oxygen mask now and then help somebody else kind of way.
The Advent that Love has come wrapped in swaddling clothes….how does it impact everything that I have just written? Well, I’d have to say that He came because He loved me, and was willing to be born so that he might die to save me from sin and death, but not only that, to give me New Life, an abundant life here on earth, a life filled with Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace. An adventurous life in where I trust God with each path that I find myself on in each season of my life. Some say there are two kinds of people those who know they are control freaks and those who deny that they are control freaks. The adventure begins with acknowledging that we do not have control over much, but that we know the One who holds all things together.
I am doing my best to love and just as important to receive the great love that is being extended to me by my family. Instead of the kids coming home to us, we have gone to the kids and it been a new experience….I am doing my best to take it all in and be present.
Tonight we wait…and tomorrow we will celebrate the baby born King.
Merry Christmas everyone.