We all struggle to love somebody

Last Saturday was Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as Single’s Awareness Day. Facebook filled with funny cards and photographs. The grocery stores had aisles that practically glowed red with all the candy and flowers and stuffed animals.

I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s all right. I’m sure it’s very sweet and romantic if you’re in a relationship, and it’s certainly fun to find cheap chocolate everywhere (unless you’re really not supposed to be eating it anyway). But I’m not sure my feelings about it would change even if I were in a relationship.

In our culture, Valentine’s Day has become known as a holiday of love, where everybody makes it a point to do something special for that special someone in his or her life. And, again, that’s perfectly fine and dandy. It just seems to me that loving each other shouldn’t be a once-a-year thing. Shouldn’t it be an everyday thing? No, maybe buying each other hearts full of chocolate shouldn’t happen every day (though that would be lovely), but spending special time with someone on a regular basis should be a part of a long-term relationship. That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

Valentine’s Day is like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It isn’t something we should celebrate just once a year. It should happen all the time–and even more often if you are a follower of Christ.

valentineToday’s verse is John 13:34

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

This is Jesus talking to the Disciples at the end of the Last Supper. He is preparing to go to the cross in mere hours, and this is one of the final things He says to His followers.

Jesus isn’t being vague here, is He? Love each other. There’s no option there. It’s not, Love each other if you feel like it. Or, Love each other as long as you treat each other the way you want to be treated. All Jesus says is, Love each other. Period.

No frills. No wiggle room. No other options. Love each other. But He doesn’t stop there. He tells us to love each other the way He loves us. So that begs the question, how did Jesus love us? Well, He died for us, didn’t He? He loved us so much He was willing to sacrifice His title, His throne, His home, His comfort, and His glory to die a humiliating and excruciating public death.

I don’t think I’ve ever loved anyone that much. Not even myself.

Jesus doesn’t say it would be nice if we could love each other that much. He doesn’t say it would be in our best interests if we could love each other that much–or even that it would please Him if we loved each other that much. He just says do it. He commands it.

Loving each other isn’t convenient. Whether it’s romantic love or the kind of love Jesus is talking about, love takes hard work. It’s not always an easy decision, and it’s rarely without cost. And, frankly, it has very little to do with how you feel. At least, that’s been my experience.

I have to choose to love people. I’m not a recluse or a hermit, but I have those tendencies. Love and mercy are not my gifts. I’ve mentioned before that some people say I’m uncompassionate, and I am. Love doesn’t come easily for me, but I choose to love people because Jesus commanded me to do it.

Granted, some people are easier to love than others. But then, some people make it almost impossible to love them. But somehow I’ve got to figure out how. That doesn’t mean I have to be their best friend. That doesn’t mean I have to go out of my way to spend all my time with them. But it does mean that I need to be kind to them, regardless of whether they are kind in return or not.

So who’s the person in your life that you are trying to love today? Everybody has someone. Don’t be ashamed. We all struggle to love somebody. Just remember that you don’t have to do it alone.

God provides what He requires. He always has. If He requires us to love each other, He will give us the strength and the opportunity to show His love to the people around us. Just be open to it, and live your life the way Jesus would. If you’re following in Jesus’ footsteps, living a life of love will just happen.

I would sing “All by Myself” . . . but that’s someone else’s catchphrase

We live in a world where everyone is constantly talking. Everyone is constantly doing something or going somewhere. We’re all busy and we’re all loud, and people rarely take the time to slow down. I know I usually only slow down when I get sick (sometimes not even then). I either consider it extreme dedication or just simple insanity. I always have people around me, and the only time I don’t is when I go home. If my folks aren’t visiting, my house is empty when I return. Nobody at the door to say hello. No dinner made. No coffee brewing. But most of the time, it doesn’t bother me.

That’s usually the first thing people ask me when they find out that I live alone in the middle of nowhere. Don’t you get lonely? Don’t you get scared in that big house all by yourself?

Honestly, the answer changes on a daily basis, but more often than not, no. I don’t suffer from lonliness on a general basis. (Mostly becuase I get my fill of people during the day and long for a few hours of solitude!) I do have days, though, when I wish there were people out here.

The verse of the day got me thinking about being alone today and how it’s usually frowned upon in our society. In our world, being alone usually means that there’s something wrong with you. That you have some issue that prevents you from getting married or getting a boyfriend or living in a community. But there’s nothing wrong with being alone. Actually, being alone is good for you. I actually think I can hear God better when I’m alone. Because — let’s face it — God is always with us so in the strictest sense we aren’t ever truly alone.

God is always talking, always leading, always saying something. He never stops. It’s just us who fail to listen.

The verse of today comes from Romans 8:38-39

 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Not only are we never alone, this verse says that nothing can separate us from God or from His love. So we’re never truly alone and we never will be, no matter what happens.

Do I miss having people around? Well, of course, I do sometimes. I’m human. I like having friends and spendinng time with them. But I enjoy my time alone too.

Our culture tells us that we have to have people around us. That we have to be constantly flitting around from social gathering to social gathering with a gaggle of friends in one hand and a lineup of possible spouses in another. And that’s wrong. All of that is just noise.

Spending time with people can be good for you, but you should balance it by spending time alone, especially by spending time alone with God. He’s the friend who never leaves you, never lets you down and always has the best advice you should follow. He doesn’t talk over you and He will always listen when you need to talk. And He loves you. And He’ll always be there. He’s the best friend you’ll ever have.