We all come from very different backgrounds that influence us as adults. We currently walk into every situation with a pre-disposed idea of what to expect, how to act, and how to react in any given moment – and all these are based off these experiences we have from our past, mixed with our knowledge of what we want as we head into the future. Although this reality won’t always provide us with the outcome we most desire, it is a beautiful realization that everybody’s life is just a compilation of this truth. Everybody’s life is in process – mine and yours. Nobody has reached their “final” destination yet, and although that may seem like a disappointing outlook, I see it as opportunity. If we haven’t reached where we are going yet, then that means there is room for growth.
In so many instances, we “try so hard” to be the best version of ourselves we can be. In turn, when we look at other people, we expect to see the best version of them (or the best version of us in them). The reality that they are not always “perfect” leads us to a place of judgment and criticism that they are not good enough, smart enough, trying hard enough, serving enough, focused enough, or so much more. We conclude based on our interactions something about a person that puts them into a category based on our outlook about their life and their life’s work. However, Jesus never said our goal is to categorize people – he said our goal is to LOVE people.
What does it even mean to love someone? Growing up, I always heard the saying “oh, bless their heart”, as my family had some southern influence. I quickly learned that in many instances, this saying was not a positive comment regarding their actions. This was a way to almost say “woe is them” in a condescending manor. However, many people that used this phrase attributed their outlook on that person as one that is loving. In the same way, when we half-heartedly offer to simply “pray” for someone, we may believe our position is one of love, but in fact our definition of it is extremely skewed.
So what, really, is love? God is love. If God is love, then Jesus is love – as He said “once you have seen Me, you have known the Father”. Therefore, Jesus’ life is the ultimate example of what it means to live out this command to love. He is a great example of what real action looks like when it is based in love. If you look through the New Testament and really examine what Jesus was doing and what motivated Him – it was love. He accomplished this through speaking, serving, walking, feeding, talking, listening, and so much more. He did not simply go about his own way of life, all the while possiblyencountering someone who needed him along the way. His way of life was love. It was purposeful and intentional and full of action. It was indeed the life we should strive to fulfill.
Our role model and main example for life is Jesus. Our job is to look like Jesus. Our job is to serve like Jesus. Our job is to speak like Jesus. Our job is to walk, feed, talk, and listen like Jesus. Our job is to LOVE like Jesus. No exceptions, no excuses. When we are introduced into a situation, our outlook should look like Jesus’. One full of hope, not fear. One full of consciousness of God, not absence of awareness. One full of desire to serve, not the focus to be served. One full of humbleness, not entitlement. These ingredients should form our outlook and our disposition on how we approach every situation.
With all this in mind, we have to have a grand awareness of grace, because we are all in process. Every single one of us is walking out what it means to experience love and be a love experience for all to see. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, and your neighbor is not perfect. We are all growing, and that needs to be recognized. This space of opportunity between “now” and “not yet” is a beautiful place where growth is accepted and thriving.
So go. Grow. Give grace. Love radically. Accept unconditionally. Rally around the culture of “belong before you agree” and realize that Jesus is our example, not those around us. Realize that we are all in process, together. We are running a marathon to make it to the finish line together – we are not in competition to beat each other there.
Give all you have to opportunities that God is launching with in front of you. Don’t hesitate and just do. God can use any situation to help with this growth path you are on and hesitation and fear hinder that opportunity for God to work in you and through you.