Inconvenient Love

Life has been its usual end of the year busyness with work, holidays, and traveling to see family. Needless to say, we were ready for a day of nothing. This Saturday we all woke up with stuffy noses and wrapped in multiple blankets from what we like to call ‘Texas winter’ aka 30 degree temperature swings in a 24 hour period. I wanted nothing more than to lounge around.

Through a friend of a friend we learned of a family that moved to Houston 1 month ago and was in need of furniture. We had been holding onto an extra couch for just this purpose. As I was getting everyone dressed and ready to help deliver the couches, World War 3 broke out in my bathroom…over toothpaste. My girls each had an end of the toothpaste tube and were pulling it back and forth fighting over who would use it first. I considered bopping their heads together like on the old 3 Stooges movies, but I restrained myself. After a period of great weeping and gnashing of teeth I literally threw my hands up. I thought, It would be much easier if the kids and I just stayed home. I’ll just let J and his friend deliver the couches. Everyone is grumpy and I’m so tired. I have a lot of other things I need to get done here. This is a really inconvenient time for me anyway.

That’s when I heard the whisper…

Love is inconvenient.

It’s messy. Loving people well interrupts our schedule. It sometimes inconveniences our bank account but even more costly, our time. I looked up the definition of convenient–fitting in well with a person’s needs, activities, or plans; involving little trouble or effort. 

Don’t miss the last part–involving little trouble or effort.

When I think about the times I’ve felt the most loved by people (not including my immediate family), it’s when people loved me inconveniently. It’s when we received a scary health diagnosis and people I barely knew showed up outside my house to pray over my family. It’s when someone heard my husband was out of the country for 2 weeks and showed up with dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook after a long day at work. It’s when people have selflessly given their own money to help us go overseas to do non-profit work. It’s so many things.

All of these people have their own crazy busy lives. They have demanding jobs and families. I know showing up for me was not convenient. They didn’t do it because we are best friends. They did it because they love Jesus and they love people and they know both require a little inconvenience.

Jesus was all about loving people inconveniently. He was always stopping along the way or sometimes going out of his way to show people love. Sometimes He went looking for them. He found Zacchaeus in a tree. He traveled through Samaria in a time most Jews didn’t and spoke to the women at the well. He paused in a crushing crowd of people vying for his attention to answer a desperate woman’s healing plea.

One of our family goals for 2017 is to make room for more inconvenience in our life. Yes, we still love schedules but not more than people. One of the things we pray with our kids every night is to help us love people the way Jesus loves people. Hearing those words don’t mean as much as seeing it in action. That’s what we want more of in 2017.

I’m not writing these words to make our family sound great. I’m sharing this in hopes that you will hold us accountable. I write these words in hopes that you would be encouraged to love inconveniently. Invite your people along for the ride.

Today we showed up at the door of people we’ve never met and will likely not see again. We had tea and pancakes while children played and men hauled heavy couches up tall stairs. Very little English was spoken, but it was good. Funny how the thing that seemed inconvenient turned out to be the best part of the day.

O Christmas tree…

Does anything tell the story of your family quite like a Christmas tree? Every ornament hung is a memory of a moment in time, a silly token from a family vacation, a gift from a person who is gone, a treasured memento made by tiny hands.

Up close you can clearly see each individual ornament. Like memories, some are sparkly and beautiful and almost perfect while some are so ugly only you could love them. They are made of paper, pipe cleaners, and dried noodles your kid made with entirely too much glue. They are the ones from your parents attic with your dog’s name from 1984 and are yellowed with age and that funky attic smell. Yet, we don’t discard those. We don’t even hang those at the back of the tree…well, maybe just a few of them when your kids aren’t looking. Every year we unwrap each individual one and proudly hang them for all to see. They are all carefully placed on the branches so the tiny lights can shine through.

Have you ever noticed when you take a picture of your entire tree, you can barely make out the individual ornaments? You really only see this big tree with hundreds of tiny lights blurring in all directions.

Did you get that?

When you step back, the Light shining through is more than all the moments of our story.

Maybe you are looking forward to this merry and bright season.

Maybe you are so close to a particular moment or piece of your story that you can’t see the light anymore. It’s gotten so dark.

Step back, friend. Just step back.

You will see the Light. I promise. It’s there.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12