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Don't it sound so good...

Yesterday wasn't just your average day at church.

At the start of the fourth service, we had a surprising experience.

A proposal.

It was highly anticipated, as most requests for a lifetime together are, and the tears flowed easy from those who knew the couple well and to those who are just beginning to (like me).  It was beautiful.  It was honest.  It was love in all its unashamed, vulnerable, free sort of way.

But what keep rotating through my memory isn't the exact moment of the proposal or the way she covered her mouth in shock or the way I could tell he was grinning ear to ear even though I couldn't see his face or the way he said, "You know I love you." just before he knelt down.

What got me and continues to get me is that after the proposal and the cheering and they went to sit down, her best friend jumps up from her seat in the choir and rushes to her side.  And not just her side, but she plopped right down on her lap and gave her a hug that meant everything.

And it still makes me tear up.

Because as I watched those two, and thought of my own beautiful friendships, all I could think was, "That's the Body of Christ.  That's exactly how we're supposed to look."

It's cheering someone else on even if you have no one in your corner.

It's encouraging gifts in someone else; ones you don't have yourself.

It's taking a baby gift or a meal when your own arms stay empty.

It's offering your resources when you have your own wish-list.  Giving food when you're hungry, too.  Abandoning sleep or your own personal wishes for someone else's betterment (hello, mothering!)  Reaching out when you want to be reached out to.

It's beautiful to look someone's joy full in the face and say, "This is my joy, too, because it is yours."  Not because we find something for ourselves in it.  But simply because our love is that deep and that strong.  That it doesn't matter if we're continually forgotten or never asked to play on the winning team. We love because He loved us.  And the way we love, should love, is how He loves us.

Life isn't fair.  I have a friend who always used to say, "Life isn't fair.  It's a place you go."

You can spend the whole of your life feeling gipped and cheated and left in the corner, or you can stand up, take someone's joy in hand and share it.  You might be surprised what might grow there, in that space and in your own heart.  We have to consciously and consistently move away from self.  That's the painful truth of it.  We're okay stretching as long as we get to stay grounded in our own comfortable surroundings.  Sure, I'll give.  As long as I can do it from right here.  Sure, I'll share in your joy.  But only if I've never felt a loss in that area.

That sounds a lot like conditional "loving" to me.

And that's not love.

I want to love the way God the Father and Jesus the Son has loved me.  And let me tell you how I have been loved.  I have been shown grace when I should have been tossed off the edge of a cliff.  I've been shown mercy when I deserved otherwise.  I've been given second chances a million times.  I've been given gifts that I am scared to use.  I've been given gifts that I take for granted.  I've been given extravagance and sometimes I've complained that it wasn't good enough.  I've been given good when I should have been given bad and I've been loved when I wasn't sure there was much to love.

And God's loving fills and changes.  I can't operate out of a heart that doesn't know love.  Because I do know love.  Even if I didn't have any earthly love, I would have a spiritual love that is more than any white horse riding off in the sunset.  And I don't say that from a heart that doesn't know what it's like to be alone. I don't say that as if I don't know what it's like to wait and wait and wait some more.  I don't say that as someone who has never given up.  Because I have.  I did.

The best thing we can do for each other is to joyfully love from the abundance we have been given.  The Bible teaches that what is in our hearts is what comes out (Luke 6:44-46).  And if I confess that I have been loved tremendously and crazily from God, then I'm pretty sure that means I should love tremendously and crazily those that God allows to track across my life.  Because all I have is all I have been given.  And all I have is to give.

And that's why Courtney on Brooke's lap at the start of fourth service drives grateful tears.  Because sometimes we need to witness a reminder to the great power of loving someone for the sake of loving them.  Sometimes we get too caught up in what we can get out of a relationship, how we can benefit, how we can add one more follower to our Facebook feed... and we forget that relationship is doing life with one another.  And the best way I know how to do life is to love.

And of course I didn't learn that all on my own.  Someone first loved me.

"Now before the Feast of the Passover,
when Jesus knew that his hour had come
to depart out of this world to the Father,
having loved his own 
who were in the world,
he loved them to the end."
~ John 13:1


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