Loving people and being yourself go hand-in-hand.
It took me a long time to unpack what others thought of me – or maybe it was my perception of what they thought of me. I needed to catalog the traits, interests, and dreams that were mine, separating others’ traits, interests and dreams for my life. Next, I needed to study what I chose to keep, to view it, define it, understand it in in order to keep or discard it. We all do that at one point, don’t we? Untangle what we think and believe from what others think and believe of us?
After we’ve untangled and sorted, those traits, interests and dreams need to be viewed through God’s perspective. Let’s face it, what is our knowledge and perspective to God’s?
Every trait, for example is a double-edged sword. Talk to Much? Able to deliver a devastating verbal repartee? That’s the negative side. The positive side? Encouragement! Praise! Building up! Hugging with words.
Sometimes our biggest trait glares – and through our own short-sightedness, the inability to see the beautiful things God can do with our traits causes us to hide them. How can we love others wholely if we cannot love the whole of ourselves?
We laugh in our family about The Big Forehead. For years, one son tried to hide it, pushing his hair forward. How can others believe in you when you hide who you are? Suddenly, one day, he came home with a haircut that actually accentuated, showed off what the family genes bestowed on him – and it changed his countenance. Yes, he had The Big Forehead, but when he stopped hiding it, putting it out there boldly, he exuded a confidence that wasn’t apparent before, though we that knew him well, knew him to be confident. Maybe it is when we accept what God put in us and how He designed us – we carry a confident assurance and it affects others’ perception of us, if we let it.
Sometimes, it’s feels like I’m waiting for permission to be me, like I need an authoritative or official certificate of permission to be who God designed me to be.
Stop waiting for permission!
It’s the same with loving people. Loving people and being yourself go hand-in-hand. Yet, how many of us are waiting for permission – something like an official invitation or certificate that allows us to love people – not just strangers, but people God gave us? Waiting to be invited through an invisible boundary, like a door, before you can love those that cross your path.
Stop waiting for Permission!
Permission for what, you ask? Permission to be who God designed you to be, though you are a work in progress. . . and stop waiting for permission to love – maybe it’s your child, your spouse, family members, in-laws, the stranger sitting next to you in church. Go ahead – be you and just love them – treating them like you would your best friend who knows you and still loves you, your favorite grandmother or aunt who saw good things in you and in the seeing, you saw them, too. Love them like Jesus loved – washing feet, touching the untouchables, reaching the unreachable – even if it is only in a hands-off and hands-up way.
Sometimes you have to love first. Sometimes you have to love though they may never know it – or even care to know it. Love anyway.
For the longest time, I sat on the sidelines waiting for permission, waiting for the invitation to belong – because I thought you had to belong in order to love people. Waiting for permission grows grudges, grows emptiness, grows discontent.
When you give yourself permission to be who God designed you to be, you give yourself permission to love those God gives you, those who walk across your daily path, those who knowingly or un-knowingly hurt your heart.
Giving ourselves permission to be ourselves and love others isn’t contingent on any response we receive. It is contingent on loving our neighbor as ourselves, on loving others as God loves us. We are only responsible for how we love our neighbor. Not how our neighbor loves us back.
Love gives. . . kind words, prayers meals, smiles, prayers, help, kind words, prayers, space, forgiveness, prayers . . . love gives without needing to be in their space. . . and space for writing their own stories even if it means failing or taking a hard road. . . love gives unconditionally. . . love gives grace.
Love strives to see others how God sees them. Love waits kindly, hopefully, faithfully, and meets others right where they are, not where you want them to be. . . because they are learning who they are to God, too – and learning to love themselves, untangling who they are from who others want them to be or from a heart-breaking perception of who they think they are. Maybe they cannot let go of who the old man was to embrace the possibilities of the new man.
Stop waiting for permission!
Be you! Be love! All sorts of good things live in a soul that loves like that!