Friday, December 20, 2013

Keep your love on

If I were to tell you what I'm best at and what I'm worst at, it would be the same thing: relationships. 

I have lots of relationships. I make friends easily. I make good friendships quickly. I love intimacy. But I still feel like I'm deeply broken when it comes to loving well. Especially my closest people. As a consequence, some of my relationships go through periods of difficulty. And this troubles me. 

But I want my closest relationships to be real love, not just being nice or getting by. Because my people are worth it. 

A recent school assignment was to read the book, Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. The book helped me to realize sometimes relationships go wrong when we feel powerless or fearful. Out of our own struggles, baggage, anxiety or areas of need, we may end up inadvertently criticizing, hurting or neglecting each other. 

So when things hit a rough patch in a relationship, the solution is not to try to win the argument or be right or even do all the proper behaviour, afraid to offend. The solution is to love. Fearlessly. Determinedly. But what love looks like in a given situation can be elusive.

First of all, I think love looks like choosing to forgive, letting go of offence or hurt. Sometimes that starts with being completely honest with yourself about how hurt you are. I recently was able to forgive someone after I wrote them a letter in which I was brutally truthful about something that hurts me in the relationship. But I will never send that letter. I just needed to get it out of my system. The person had already apologized for what they'd done, but I was having trouble getting rid of the frustration and pain. Right after I wrote the letter, I deleted it and felt tremendous freedom to forgive the person. 

Sometimes love looks like pursuing and lavishing radical acceptance, encouragement and grace on someone who doesn't have the capacity to love, honour, encourage or pursue you back. Other times it looks like having hope for the relationship when the other person doesn't. Sometimes it's choosing to believe what God tells you about the person more than what you see in front of you. Love can mean bravely, lovingly and gently telling them how hurt you feel. Or it can even look like saying to yourself, "I am a child of the King. I am not going to subject myself to disrespect. But I choose to maintain an open heart for when this person is ready to respect me." 

I want to be a radical lover. The litmus test of that love is not the relationships that are easy, casual or still in the honeymoon stage. The test of my commitment to love is in the face of annoyance, insult, neglect or even rejection. In those moments, love is a choice. In those moments, love is a cloak I choose to wrap around myself. It’s the royal robes of my Prince of Peace, the ones He lets me wear when my own are ragged and threadbare. 

His love is bigger than my petty irritations, my sensitive self image or my need to be right. His love enables me to love from the reality that He romances my heart with a love that renders me speechless. And because I am loved beyond all reason, I can love when it seems too hard to love. 

I am thankful for the people in my life who tick me off sometimes. I celebrate those who push my buttons. I rejoice over the ones with whom I’ve searched the deep places of the heart and we’re still in process. Because they're worth it, and they're the people who will grow my heart. These are the people who will send me to the foot of the cross, asking for more capacity to love. These are the people who will set my heart on fire with the precious refiner’s fire, and the result will be pure gold

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 

One more thing: I have an extra copy of Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. If you feel like this is an area you want to grow in, drop me an email at I'll draw a name to send it to.