I remember the first time reading the quote from Dorothy Day, “You only love God as much as the person you love least.” It has stayed with me and there are times it doesn’t quite sit comfortably. I can say I do not hate anyone. I can say I love everyone, but do I hand out love in different quantities and with different stipulations? Are there times where it flows lavishly and freely, and other times not so much? Are there times where I am choosing to love less, not put the effort in, or as I Corinthians 13 so poetically puts it not be patient or kind, persevering, letting selfishness pervade? If I am honest, this is true more often than not, and in the space I would expect least, at home or with the people of my daily life. It’s as if being tired gives me the allowance to be lazy with my loving.
I have found an interesting phenomenon in myself, and I have seen it in others, the space where you would expect the least love, ends up being the place where love is occurring most. Many years ago I spent a weekend in a homeless shelter, I was fired up, all out loving people no matter what they looked like, smelled like, or said. It rejuvenated me. Then I went to drive home with my team, and found myself easily annoyed with some ladies for expressing their needs. I am seeing this happen again with subbing. In the classroom with the kids, I am all in loving. I am focused. A little kid threw a pencil at me the other day, no problem, I see her issues and lean in to her hurt. Then I come home and get frustrated with someone who forgot to do something small. (Thankfully, pencil throwing is not a habit of our home, or in general in my life.) I can see it and feel it. There is such a difference and it bothers me.
I remember coming home and pondering the intense focus and ability to be kingdom minded at the Homeless Shelter. It was such a blessing to be so single-focused, and know I was being about my Father’s business, but then to come home and interact with my daily people in my home and around my daily life with less than enthusiastic love was so disappointing. The more I thought about it and now thinking about it again, as it is showing itself again, it is easy to be loving and all in in a focused setting where that is your goal. Loving kids for 50 minutes or even 6 hours is set. I do not have expectations for them. They do not disappoint me. Even when they do not want to do the work, it is not personal, I am the sub, it is not my assignment but in my daily life there are needs, desires, and expectations that trip me up in this mission, really our only mission, love God and love others, according to Jesus, everything else hinges on these and it is true.
It is easy to want to beat myself up for not walking in this every moment, but that is not the answer, or the help. I love to listen to and read Bob Goff. In his latest book, Everybody Always, (which I highly recommend), he has a “trick” that I have been trying in life, and it is helpful to put daily loving into a more manageable place, love people 30 seconds at a time. When someone is being difficult, or I feel disappointed and frustrated instead of moving away from them or returning what they are dealing out, I remember, or try to remember the 30 second rule. He shares how you can do pretty much anything for 30 seconds, and when you get to the end of 30 seconds, start again. The lesson that keeps coming up over and over and I shared it early on in this blogging adventure is every rep makes me stronger. (https://inkblotlife.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/reps/ ) I am learning this applies to more than just exercise. I may fail at loving well, but every time I succeed, it makes that stronger. It grows my kindness, and patience. It helps me take the focus off me so I can love the other person well, no matter where they are at in their journey. “Love isn’t something we fall into; love is someone we become.”(Bob Goff) It is something that does not come natural, we come out the womb yelling, “me.” But as children of the King it is something we need to choose to become. I am learning that it is something that is easier done when it is in a chunk period of time and it is the goal. When I forget that the goal is to love people, I return to my default of selfishness. I want to love well, so I am practicing 30 seconds at a time where ever I am, and however I feel, and each time I succeed, it makes my love for the person grow and it becomes more of who I am not just in a specific setting, but in my daily life, 30 seconds at a time.