"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
On the first of January, in my blog found here, I declare 2013 to be the Year of Love. I have high hopes and aspirations; after all, if I set out to give, acknowledge, and celebrate love in each and every day, how can I go wrong? I can't. This choice to consciously and purposefully love others has, in three short months, opened my eyes and my heart to see with more clarity and empathy than I imagined was possible.
I've trained myself to remember the word "love" within minutes of waking each morning. Just thinking about it sets my day on the right track. I look forward to the unfolding of each minute and hour, eager to see how the day progresses when love is at the forefront of my thoughts.
And, this is how the Year of Love is changing me:
- Patience - I've never been a particularly impatient person, but I have my moments, especially when stuck in traffic or standing in a long line. What I've noticed is how these things bother me less and less when I allow the word "love" to dwell in my mind. Just recently, I am stuck at the grocery store check-out behind a woman redeeming a bazillion coupons. It is taking forever! But, instead of getting frustrated by the delay, I use the time for silent prayer. What peace I have! And, wow, how the time flies by!
- Acceptance - Have you ever made a snap judgment about a stranger you see or a person to whom you have just been introduced? I know I have. I'll assess someone, fairly or unfairly, by his or her outward appearance, letting years of learned perceptions get in the way of simply seeing a fellow human being. Now, when I catch myself on the verge of being judge and jury, I step back from those negative thoughts. I remember that God made them and loves them. I strive to see how God sees. And, to see Christ in them. I find it's easier than I thought to accept them just as they are.
- Gratitude - I have experienced a heightened awareness of what it means to be thankful in all things. Even the smallest of blessings become magnified beneath the lens of love. Some days, my heart feels so full of gratefulness, it wants to burst! That's when I catch myself smiling more and often, and laughing out loud for seemingly no reason. But, there is, of course, a reason - it's love.
- Generosity - Life is not about getting. It's about giving. Love cannot be contained within oneself or it ceases to be love. It must be given away with extravagant generosity. And, as it is shared with others, it multiplies exponentially. It's catching! Because, people who are showered with true, lavish, and overwhelming love are inspired to love others in the same way.
Best of all, by prioritizing love in my life, I constantly reflect upon the ways I can let the light of Jesus shine through me. I am reminded that He commanded us to love one another just as He loves us.
Loves us so deeply, so intensely, so faithfully. Loves us so much, He is willing to take our rightful place on the cross. Loves us enough to die for our sins.
Loves us . . . that much . . .
On this Good Friday, will you remember Jesus' loving sacrifice made for you?
Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for loving us so deeply, so intensely, so faithfully, that You sent Jesus, Your only beloved Son, to die for our sins. Today, may we meditate upon the brutal price our Lord paid to free us, forgive us, and redeem us. Amen.