This is a Love Story
Feb. 8, 2022
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 John 4:16)
With Valentine’s Day approaching this week, Love has been on my mind (more than usual). I’d like to share a story with you all. This is a Love story.
My uncle and I are diametric opposites in most of our political and social ideologies. For years, I found myself gritting my teeth during fraught family dinners, summers at the beach, or any time my uncle was sharing his thoughts on a current matter. In fact, the only mutual ground we had was our love for our respective pets and our love for my godson (his grandson). It became painful to break bread together. He was rooted in conservatism; I was based in discipleship – or so I thought.
A couple of weeks ago, my dad texted me to remind me that it was Uncle’s 70th birthday. “Please wish him a happy birthday,” Dad said. After humming and hawing on my part, I composed a text message to my uncle: “Happy birthday! 70 is quite a milestone. Did you have a nice day today?”
He replied and we had a back-and-forth texting conversation for a little while. When the conversation was winding down, I said: “I’m so glad you had a nice day today! It was great catching up with you. Love you!” He said back to me, “Love you – that was the best birthday present I could have asked for. Love you, too.”
Tears quickly filled my eyes. After years of uncomfortable interactions, the Love of God worked its way into my heart and our once-thought-irreparable relationship. All I had to do was let go of my own self-righteousness and offer Grace in its place. Last week when I shared some news with some people close to me, he was the first person to reply. “We are so proud of you,” he said. “We love you.” There it was again: that God-given Love that we are called to share with others.
True discipleship requires pausing our own noise in order to hear God. Usually, God says something pretty simple: Love one another. We can only become Beloved Community when we start with relationships closest to us. After that, the Love becomes contagious.
It has been both profoundly beautiful yet profoundly heartbreaking to think of the wasted time feeling angry with one another. God speaks through us: “I love you” is God’s best, most effective way of doing that. Opening myself up to the possibility that my love may not be reciprocated is always scary. However, when I become vulnerable, I feel God’s Light shining through both the other person and myself.
The relationship between my uncle and myself has drastically improved since his birthday. The truth is, it still has a long way to go. I am confident that continuing to invite God’s love into my heart will be paramount in healing the remainder of the wounds.
This week – and through the entire month of February – I encourage you to think of a person in your life who needs some more love. It may involve un-gritting your teeth, or unclenching your jaw, or even swallowing some pride. Reach out to that person with Love. I promise it will be worth it. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.