Tag Archives: grace

Love practiced among people who love poorly

“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.

They always made it up again

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.

He Stoops to Conquer

“It is a poor thing to strike our colours to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor ting to come to hm as a last resort, to offer up ‘our own’ when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud, he would hardly have us on such terms: but he is not proud, he stoops to conquer. He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to him, and come to him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had.”
– C.S. Lewis

{I am exceedingly thankful that this is true.}

The Paradox of Hope

“Charity is a fashionable virtue in our time; it is lit up by the gigantic firelight of Dickens. Hope is a fashionable virtue to-day; our attention has been arrested for it by the sudden and silver trumpet of Stevenson. But faith is unfashionable, and it is customary on every side to cast against it the fact that it is a paradox.

“Everybody mockingly repeats the famous childish definition that faith is ‘the power of believing that which we know to be untrue.’ Yet it is not one atom more paradoxical than hope or charity. Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.

“It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them.

“For practical purposes, it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.”

– G.K. Chesterton