Loving God, Loving Others

Reading 1 Corinthians 13 does it for me. Going through Mary Kassian's study has done it. Reading & responding to the 50+ comments on the last post (that are no longer up) did it. Being around irritating or difficult people does it. Even being at home, with the people I love and treasure, does it. What is "it"?

"It" is: forcing me to really see how little I resemble God, and how little I truly LOVE God. As I read through 1 Corinthians 13, it easily becomes a checklist for self-examination:
  • Do I focus on speaking well, but lack love?
  • Do I have insight, knowledge, and even faith, but lack love?
  • Do I give generously & even live radically for God and yet lack love?
  • Am I patient and kind towards others, both the easy-to-love and the less-easy-to-love people around me?
  • Do I compare myself with others, either envying or boasting?
  • Am I arrogant or rude, essentially puffing up myself and/or putting down others?
  • Am I convinced that my way is the only right way?
  • Do I get easily irritated with others? Am I resentful?
  • Am I entertained, excited, or delighted by sin, or by the truth?
  • Do I put up with difficulties, or am I weak and whiny when it comes to suffering?
  • Do I believe and trust, or am I suspicious?
  • Do I hope, or am I shaky, anxious, and uncertain?
  • Do I endure (am I reliable?) or do I give in and give up?
Boy, do I fall short! On almost every single question, I answer the wrong way. It is painful to see just how unloving I really and truly am.

Honestly, y'all, these last few weeks have been chock-full of God's gentle, yet firm and in-my-face, showcasing of my failings. He's doing it, I'm confident, to change me. To bring me low so that I won't walk in pride or even come close to thinking that I have it all together. To show me that He loves me enough to keep softening my rough edges. But, as a form of public confession, here are some of the things He's bringing to mind:
  • I am, all too often, irritable towards my husband.
  • I'm impatient with my children.
  • I am unkind in my heart, mind, and words towards others who are different (as seen here at MH this week).
  • I care far too much about the perceptions of others... I want to be seen as smart, fun, insightful, and desirable-as-a-friend... not a critical, grumpy know-it-all.
  • I think my way is the best way, almost all the time... whether we're talking about editing a brochure or making lasagne or raising kids or folding laundry or whatever.
  • Plain and simple: I lack love.
Pretty convicting. And embarrassing. But what a precious thing to have a Father that doesn't just let me stay like I am-- but One who is willing to hurt me and wound my heart as He points out my sin so that, in the long run, I will hopefully be more and more like Him. One who is willing to break me so that I will rely on His wisdom instead of my own. One who knows--better than I do-- what I need.

And what I need is love.


Cat said...

Are you sure you aren't channeling me? Just kidding, cause I don't believe in that stuff, but your list could me mine. I'm being convicted over and over of these things.

Mom Of E's said...

Wow. I can't really say anything else.... You've given me so much to think and pray about. Thanks, Jess.


BETHANY said...

Well, you may be in the wrong, but you aren't alone. I think anyone who says they don't struggle with being loving is a big, fat liar. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, My name is Amy, even though I had to click the "anonymous" button.

I struggle with this, too. Glad to hear I'm not alone! So often, it seems that people with credentials and authority pressure me to make choices they deem "ethical," yet, I have to ask myself - where is the love in what they're demanding?

And where is the love in what I demand of others? I want to set healthy boundaries, be loving, not cruel, yet not a doormat. It's not easy.

As for whether you "know it all," you know what's best for you, and I truly believe that. Trust that you're using your gifts in the best way for YOU. While others may need to do things differently, and that's fine, it doesn't necessarily mean that the way you do things is wrong. I trust that you have a loving heart, Jess, because you're writing draws me back to your site over and over again. I find it inspiring and grounding. So there!

Britt said...

Jess, I'm sure you're going to hear this over & over again, but I struggle with these too....especially being impatient.

But - I still want to be your friend :)

E03 said...

--you are saying things i'm seeing in myself too, you're not alone--
thankful for our Saviour,


darci said...

hmm..this is exactly what I've been thinking of myself lately! :( I find I can get so caught up in 'being spiritual' without being Christlike whatsoever. I'm so so grateful for God's gentleness, but also for His..perseverance in changing me into His image. I'm just longing to long for HIM, and Him alone...instead of getting totally sidetracked by all those desires you mentioned..being seen as likeable, funny, not being a 'slave' (that's a big one for me..and the Bible says to BE a servant..eek!). thanks for sharing. you are SO not alone in this. :)

Anonymous said...

My dad used to say, "There is more than one right way." It's hard enough to believe that, let alone love someone who is taking a different path.

Don't be too hard on yourself. We are all works in progress.

There is a famous Hasidic Jewish saying (but I've seen it quoted by Christians too, e.g. http://www.buckscentralchurch.org/gospe2.htm):

“Keep two truths in your pocket, and take them out according to the need of the moment. Let one be: ‘For my sake was the world created.’ And the other: ‘I am dust and ashes.’”

Laurie B

cheryl said...

I am a lurker and I have only commented once, but I must say that I really appreciate this post.
I was just discussing with a friend of mine today about how women are so hard on women because we are always comparing ourselves and quick to judge each other. Especially when it comes to raising children. I came across your last post the other day and then after reading this one, I must say (and not that you need a pat on the back from a stranger), this post reflects the heart of a woman who truly seeks to glorify Christ. I appreciate your honesty and integrity and all that you offer to those who are seeking to know Him more. Thank you for your example, your desire to not back down from what is True and your willingness to put it all out there - the good and the bad.
Praise God that His Word is living and active and that He can chip away at my sin to reveal His Son. Thank you for reminding me of this - I think I need to be reminded everyday.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

You are being conformed to the image of Christ. That is obvious! We are all in a process of growth. We are in the process of learning how to better love each other. Don't be discouraged. The things you are learning are making you BETTER...and I think you are a neat young lady already. Have you heard of CJ Mahaney's book "Humility-True Greatness"? Well, that is what I thought of when you I read what you posted. Humility.

Where your heart is now, is where true greatness is found!

I rejoice with you!
...and I am continuing to learn the same lessons you are learning!!!

Polly said...

I think the vast majority of Christians can also answer the wrong way on most of those questions. But so many of us don't stop to ponder these things, or to study our hearts, or to truly ask God to search us and know us....

And you do. I think this indicates that you're the 'real deal' as a disciple.

Kara said...

Hi Jess, I'm using the ?s for myself today...they'll get put down in the "confess" section of my journal! For me, it seems like my prayer to "get rid" of my selfishness is ever-present...obviously NOT loving. Yes, I Cor. 13 does it! Also I, oh so often, bring myself back to the Fruit of the Spirit. My favorite B.Moore study so far is the one on Fruit of the Spirit...almost TOO applicable! Oh, to always put God and others before myself...

I'll have to get ahold of Vertically Inclined. I remember loving her Conversation Peace a few years back with a group of moms. Peace to you!

Shannon said...

Love you, Jess. :)

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

You too, huh? Thanks for keepin' it real, Jess. We appreciate that about you.

~ LHP ~ said...

Please add me to the list of those who are right beside you. My prayer journal is full of repenting for my lack of love towards . . . everyone. And full of prayers asking God to give me love and compassion for people.

Thank you for writing this - and like another commenter said - we are being made into His image. Just not on our timetable!

I'm reading "Love As A Way of Life" by Gary Chapman right now. It has practical ideas on developing the traits of love - but you are right, it is a heart issue. I'm glad I read what you wrote before I got too caught up in the surface area of love. I want a deep heart transformation. (I'm not saying his book isn't about that, too, but I was picking up the practical stuff, i.e. the easy stuff)

Change my heart, O God!

michelle t said...

Jess, we all fall short. That is why we needed a Savior to begin with! I just wanted to encourage you - God is using you in my life. Your posts give me food for thought; it is up to me to check that they are spiritually on target. They have been.

While the Spirit is prompting you to ask these questions, you are being obedient in sharing. It's not easy to open yourself up to an unknown public not knowing the responses you will receive. But it's God's approval you need to seek and not man's.

I am grateful for your integrity and your desire to surrender yourself to the Lord. Remember when we are humbled that is when he will lift us up.

Praying for you today, Michelle

Tiffanie said...

I read this post, then scanned the last one again (I had read it in full earlier this week) and I fail to see how your previous post was unloving. You spoke the truth! We live in a mixed up, upside down world that is offended by the truth more than by error. Only you can truly be the judge of whether that was posted lovingly or not by assessing your motives and your heart at that time. Sometimes the most loving things are found to be unloving by the recipient (like the gospel!) depending on their heart.

Otherwise, I fully understand the need to assess how much we love and I am right there with you in the "need to love more" boat!

Thanks for your humility!

Anonymous said...

I agree with tiffanie's comments. I also reread the previous post and felt the same way I did the first time I read it. Thanks for the encouragement on child training!

Jess said...

Thanks, Tiffanie and the most recent anonymous commenter. It wasn't the post that I felt was unloving, but some of my responses in the comment box on that post were definitely less than loving. One was downright rude. I did apologize to that blogger, and she graciously forgave me for my rude response.

The post is still as I intend for it to be, but because many of the comments (not just mine) had gotten out of hand, and I got tired of getting rude comments that started with, "you don't have to publish this, but...", I decided to close and hide the comment box.

That said, thanks for the encouragement. I wasn't trying to in any way deny what I wrote in the actual post-- that's why it's still up, though in a slightly edited version from what it had been. I generally edit or pull stuff out of commission if I change my mind... which does happen, but rarely.

Oh, and Gina--
Yes, I've been talking with some friends about borrowing that Mahaney book, and it's just a matter of getting my hands on it. Thanks for the good recommendation. It seems like you are always recommending resources that are newly discovered and relevant. So thanks.

Anonymous said...

I really think I am the president of the "lacking love club". A position I would greatly love to resign from! I am sure my kids would also like to see me reliquish my impatient baton. But it is all part of sanctification. The fact that I can see the sins in my life is a HUGE step from where I was before. From the wonderful hymn Amazing Grace...I was blind but now I see...and just to keep it real...from GI JOE knowing is half the battle. Ok I kid, but seriously, the closer I get to Christ the bigger my sins become. One day, oh how precious it will be, I will not struggle with the flesh anymore!!

Leanne said...

As I told a friend of mine a few weeks ago...

"I am happy that you're struggling with incorporating your faith in your everyday life. Or more to the point, that you care enough TO struggle with it."

You are to be commended for re-evaluating your life according to the Scriptures. I wish everyone would do that from time to time!!!

kayla said...

You have a great blog. i found you some how when i was looking for things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia. I iwish you all the best.

Mom said...

What a very truthful post. I have also been struggling with this same thing. I have been in a great Bible Study called Blessings from the Heart, A Woman's Legacy, and it has been very meaningful in so many ways. When you mentioned getting easily irritated with others, unkind in my heart, mind & words, it made me remember a verse that has been impressed on me regarding this issue. I Peter 3:9-Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. I have really been trying to put that to practice, and it has been very hard, but it has made a big difference with my relationships. And here is another verse that goes along with this - Above all, LOVE each other deeply, because LOVE covers over a multitude of sins. Isaiah 4:8
I'm so glad that I stopped and took time to read this post tonight. It was something that I needed to read and work on even more.

Kimberly said...

Thanks, I needed that! ;)