I am headed out of town for the weekend, because I have the awesome opportunity to teach at another church’s women’s retreat weekend. (prayers appreciated) The downside (or maybe upside), is that I will not have wifi or cell coverage where I am going. Which means no ability to post blogs for a few days. I thought I would write one big composite post today and you can read it a bit each day (or all at once, whatever you choose…I have no control over you and won’t know either way).
11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11
There are so many forms or expressions that our love can take. Some of us are words of affirmation people. We like to use our words to love others, sharing compliments and encouragement and verbally saying, “I love you.” We love to let our friends know our appreciation by sending notes and uplifting texts. These are often the people who find encouraging sayings and post them to Facebook. They are also the ones who post photos of get togethers with friends and comment how blessed they are to have such amazing friends. We are “words” people.
The potential for using social media to encourage and share love is tremendous. But with every benefit, there is a strong caution. Just as with so many other good things (like food) there is always a chance of harm (ex. overeating). The danger in using social media to share our words of affirmation and love, is that we unintentionally hurt others.
I think many of us have felt that sting. We open Facebook, only to see a photo of some friends out to dinner and a caption that says, “I am so blessed to have such great friends.”
There was no mal-intent. The one who posted it probably does feel blessed. But when you are the friend who wasn’t invited, the potential hurt is tremendous. I have been there and I am guessing you have as well. It is one of the reasons I don’t have Facebook and rarely look at it. Being on the “outside” is painful and lonely.
Challenge 20: Really think about how you use Facebook and other forms of social media. Consider…will this post encourage and share love with every one? Or, is there the potential that in showering one friend (or a few) with love, I may unintentionally NOT be showing love to another. Let’s use our words to share love with all. Post something to social media today with the sole purpose of sharing God’s love with ALL who see it.
23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23
We must love one another. (Are you sensing a theme?)
Of all the “one another” verses, the largest segment are the “love one another” verses. Which should come as no surprise seeing as God is love and we are called as His people to be like Him.
Some of us share our love by our actions. We go out of our way to do kind and loving gestures. We serve others with our time and actions. This can look like helping a co-worker with a task, doing a chore for someone (anyone want to come put my laundry away?), helping your spouse tackle his to-do list, watching your neighbors kids or going grocery shopping for a sick friend.
A danger I see for those who love this way, is the unending list of things that could be done. We can use the excuse of “wanting to show love” as a cover for workaholism. Those who love by doing acts of service need to hone in a small list of people to love or they will work themselves to exhaustion by doing and doing and doing.
Remember, we are to love others as we love ourselves. If we are not caring for self, we will not be in a good place from which to pour out love. Care for yourself. Set boundaries. Love others well, but remember you can’t love everyone equally.
Challenge 21: Show your love by your actions today. Do an act of service for another. But, if you are someone who never stops (my hand is raised) and is constantly doing…your challenge is to sit. Be still today. Soak in God. Rest, so you are better able to give and serve and love tomorrow.
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
Some of us share love with our bodies. Huggers unite!!! We are the ones who hug and give back rubs and pats on the back. We hold hands. We cuddle. We kiss our kids. We sit on laps.
I have two kids who love physical touch. Valerie is a cuggler. (cuddler/snuggler) She loves to sit on the couch with us and just lean up against us. She rubs her face on me like a kitten. She loves to be close. Daniel (who is 5 and unimaginably rambunctious) still loves to be carried. He will crawl up in our laps. He gives hugs incessantly. And, he LOVES to have his back scratched.
I have another child who, at the age of 8, decided that he did not like hugs. Eight years later, he still bristles at physical touch. He would rather we show him love in any form that is not hug related. As his mom, I hold the distinct honor of being the only one allowed to hug him without first asking permission, primarily because his dad has brainwashed him that I am the queen and he is never to cross the queen. So he tolerates (barely) the hugs I give him.
We huggers need to be careful. Andrew is not the only non-hugger out there. There is potential for our expressions of love to communicate quite the opposite to those who do not share our penchant for physical touch. Huggers, beware: unless you are certain, it is best to ask before you go in for a squeeze.
Day 22 Challenge:
Do you know someone who likes physical touch? Go out of your way to give them a hug, pat on the back or a cuddle today. And don’t push the envelope with those non-huggers. Give them their space.
Day 23: (Mon)
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:11-12
Some of us are gift givers (and receivers). We find every opportunity we can to shower those we love with gifts. We go to the grocery store, perfect opportunity to grab a candy bar for my spouse. Running errands, that’s a perfect time to swing through the coffee shop drive thru and grab a coffee for a friend. A friend having a rough day, take her some flowers. A friend celebrating, take her a gift to recognize her joy. Want to bless your child, pick up a toy at the store.
I love brightening the day of a friend with a little gift. It makes me so happy to see their face light up when what I have gifted speaks to their heart.
The downside to gift giving? I see none. Just kidding. The down side is that there are some who have trouble receiving. Some friends feel guilty if they are not able to return the gracious kindness. And, when done in front of others, giving a gift can cause tremendous pain for those who did not receive a similar expression of generosity. Again, this is where social media can be a trap. It is easy to post a “thank you” to a friend on social media (ie. Thanks to my Life group for bringing me flowers while I was sick!). But those who have not been the recipients of a similar effort may quickly feel hurt or left out. In addition, those who don’t have the time or monetary ability to give a similar gift might feel like they are not a good friend because they cannot afford to give gifts.
By no means does this mean that we don’t share gifts and grace with each other. But, when we do we should be quiet about it (remember that “don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing passage?). And when we receive those gifts, be grateful in a manner that is also quiet and not going to cause pain for others.
Share love by giving a well thought out gift today. Really consider what might show a friend or family member love and then bless them with a gift (a coffee, a gift card, a candy bar, a movie, a small toy, a piece of jewelry, etc.).