Luke 10:27 (The Message)
He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
So, for those that know me, you know that I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Long story short – why should there be one day a year that we take to show our love for someone else, when we should be doing every day?
It’s been a couple of days since I wrote that first statement. In fact, it’s Ash Wednesday and tomorrow begins the Journey of Lent. I got off track a little bit with life this week and trying to get focused again. Not much has changed since that first statement. I am still not a big fan of Valentine’s Day but I do however want to observe Lent. Can I incorporate the two? Is that even possible?
I’ve been reflecting on the above scripture quite a bit lately. And by lately, I mean for a few years. Oddly enough, this is the first time I’ve seen it in Eugene Peterson’s translation “The Message”.
…as well as you do yourself…
What would happen if we don’t love ourselves in the way that God wants us to? We don’t allow for grace in our lives. We set the bar too high and get mad when we don’t reach it. Sometimes, we believe what some of the people say about us, not the kind ones, but the others – the “neighbors”. Their tapes play over and over in our heads – even the undeserving ones. What would happen if we don’t love ourselves in the way that God wants us to? That means we aren’t listening to God right?
What would happen if we don’t listen to God’s voice? The voice of grace; of love; of compassion? I was sent an email recently with the following words from scripture:
You are not invisible, unknown. You are seen, known, and understood. O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. – Psalms 139:1-2
You do not have to be strong enough. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
You do not have to be enough. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God Ephesians 2:8
Valentine’s Day is about love. Lent is normally the practice of “giving up” something to deepen our relationship with God. I know I am going off a bit by combining the two, but let me try. Why did I wait a couple of days to write this entry? I think deep down, I needed to hear a voice. I needed to hear the voice of grace, love, and compassion that comes from within. I needed a reminder that the person who needs to be loved on Valentine’s Day is me . And what about Lent? What should I give up? Not a thing. What I have been doing is giving up the entire time, on myself, because of the voices. The one thing that I should not give up on at all is – me. So instead of giving up on myself, I am going to give in. I am going to give into the one voice that matters most. I am going to love myself a little bit more because that is what God told me to do and it’s about time I listened. Amen.