“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour — unceasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”
– Henri Nouwen
When I screw up, I find it comforting to remember that we are all “people who love poorly;” it isn’t just me. And when I’m the angry, offended one, it’s good to remember that I love poorly all the time.
Maybe this sounds cynical, but I don’t think you should be surprised when people in my life let you down. They are imperfect, and they will fail. This thing is, if someone really loves me, they will eventually realize/acknowledge that they hurt me, and they will regret it. Unfortunately, that can take a while. If I start to forgive them before they even ask for it, things can begin to heal right away.
I also keep coming back to that last phrase: “the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” I assume so often that everyone has it together but me. Everyone is strong and in control but me. Everyone has more money and better hair. Honestly, I feel like this all the time, probably (in part) because it gives me a good excuse to think mostly about myself.
But it’s not like that. Everyone is weak. Everyone needs to be forgiven, and encouraged, and lifted up, and loved. God is taking care of me (usually through other people); it’s my job to take care of my neighbor.
“The true Scriptural source of consolation, in the face of all that troubles us, is to keep steadily before our eyes the second coming of Christ. We must grasp and realize the blessed fact that the rightful King of the world is returning soon, and shall have His own again; that He shall put down that old usurper, the devil, and take away the curse from off the earth. Let us cultivate the habit of daily looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, the gathering together of the saints, the restitution of all things, the banishment of sorrow and sin, and the re-establishment of a new kingdom, of which the rule shall be righteousness.”
– J. C. Ryle
Sometimes, it seems like evangelical Christians spend too much time meditating on propitiation/justification and their own sin, rather than focusing on God’s love for us in our current, every-day lives and on his future promises to us. God does more than just forgive us.
I really like what Ryle says here. The true Scriptural source of consolation isn’t that God’s wrath has been turned away and that I’m not going to hell. That’s a historical fact, but it was just the beginning. The biggest consolation for me has always been that God is making all things new — he is teaching me to love others more than I love myself, comforting those who have pain and loss, finding those who have gone astray, reconciling families that have been torn apart. He is caring for us now (often by teaching us to care for each other) and preparing a place where he will wipe away every tear and crown us with glory.
So stop focusing on your own sin and unworthiness. Focus on God, and then look around and find ways to help the kingdom come by loving the people around you.
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband! I love you very much.
One of the first things my husband and I bonded over was our shared love of C.S. Lewis. Here’s a favorite quote of ours from the last page of “The Horse and His Boy,” one of the Chronicles of Narnia. This quote reminds us of ourselves because we love to argue. Well, I enjoy debating when I’m in the mood, and he loves to argue for fun, but we make it work.
“Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.”
– C.S. Lewis
I realize that this is a strange quote for today, but it will make him smile when he reads it, and that’s what matters.
So today, I’d like to thank him for loving me and taking good care of me. For letting me tell you everything I’m thinking or worrying about, even if it’s you that’s worrying me. For being patient and gracious with me when my emotions over-run my reason, and I get scared even though you have things in hand. For forgiving me when I nag you. And for telling me over and over again that I’m beautiful, especially when I don’t quite believe it. I love you.
And I like to thank all of the people who have loved and encouraged us and prayed for us over the last few years. A lot of things haven’t gone as planned, and we’ve had some hard times, but you were behind us, and God was with us, and we’ve stuck together. Thank you.