Occasional bouts of grumpiness aside, I like to think that I’m a pretty nice person. I sit here and write to you about love and Jesus and enjoying life moment by moment. All very nice and kind and lovely.
But there is something about running late that lets my narky side out to play and I become, for a short moment, not very nice or loving at all.
I didn’t realise it was running late specifically that did it until literally this morning but, having noticed, I’m starting to think that I might not be the only one.
So, regular scheduling is abandoned for today (I had a whole other email on half for you but we’ll save that for tomorrow) while we dig into this idea of love and what it really looks like when you’re running late or rushing about or feeling stressed.
Because it feels really important.
We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ but I’m let’s pretend it’s not just me) talk about love and how it’s the most important thing of all.
We have this burning desire to reinvent how this world sees and understands God’s love.
We’re starting to see that for real love to actually have an impact, it has to be actioned, one person at a time.
But then real life happens.
And we sigh because our middle child is crying again, only to find out that she’s only crying because she hurt herself and wants someone to rub her little pinky better.
And then we drive the kids to school and get narky and impatient with a grandmother because she walked out in front of the car and didn’t engage her brain to realise that it’s not just her grandchild who needs to get a move on and get to school if he’s not going to be late.
And then we check ourselves and feel really guilty for being so grumpy and un-loving.
Writing about love is easy. Seriously, writing to you each morning is one of the best parts of my day.
Talking about love is easy. I did it in church on Sunday and saw people nodding along. They agreed. They got it.
But real life, day to day love? So much easier to say and write about than it is to actually do.
Worse still, we can look around at what we see other people saying and writing about and it paints this picture of ease. People like me are guilty of this. We wax lyrical about love and kindness and encourage you to love, one person at a time.
But how often do you get to peep behind the curtain and see the reality of daily love in another person’s life?
Not all that often. Hardly ever.
And it can leave us feeling so inadequate. Like we don’t measure up and probably never will.
Would you like to know the reality?
The reality is that every single person on this planet, no matter how much they like to pretend otherwise, gets it wrong. Has a bad day. Snaps. Is narky and grumpy.
You don’t need to look around you to see how loving you are compared to other people. You only need to look to how much you’re loving, in that moment.
It helps if we can start to recognise our triggers (like me and running late) but ultimately, the only way we can love, day to day, is to just do it the best we can, moment by moment, God helping us.
Paul talks about how we can become more and more like Jesus each day. We don’t do that by trying harder or wishing more. We do that by asking God to help us and him giving us opportunities to practice.
There’s no magic bullet or quick fix. That’s not God’s way.
Instead it’s about showing up, every day, just as we are, putting one foot in front of the other, asking God to help us but accepting that we won’t get it right all the time.
Loving because we were loved first.
But knowing that God doesn’t need us to be kinder or more lovely in order for him to love us. He loves you because he loves you. End of.
So stop comparing yourself to anyone other than you and know that you’re not the only one who gets it wrong an awful lot of the time.
Welcome to the club. Pull up a chair. You’re in good company!