little giving king.

skull crownTo give is to loosen your heart from itself enough to love unmistakably. Forever a war will wage within my chest.  A native land will always be at stake.  Advances will be made and little won battles will convince me that peace is near and the war won, but I will learn that then, too, I must loosen my grip on my own heart and selfish desire.  The war is no less than my heart able to love freely in response to Christ's love allowed to vanquish all selfishly rooted motive smeared ugly by sin and mired in desire.

You see, to give from a place of charity in my heart as a means of merely being charitable and nice is a short-sighted advance in the war of my heart.  The problem is in my every attempt to be good, in every good try to really care for those close to me.  Sooner or later, most often sooner, my grip around my heart will tighten, my love will flatten, my words grow coarser and I will set alone as king of nothing really, just my little demanding heart. If the victory over our selfish hearts lies in love, then we must be givers rather than takers.  Give more than you demand receipt and you will love expertly - but, the caveat to be crossed is giving and loving without measure.  And that can only happen in our hearts, in our families, marriages and varying relationships, when our hearts have been pierced with a Love forever.  In Christ alone do our hearts both die and live, rightfully find end and beautifully are resurrected.

When I became a father, love swelled uncontrollably within the walls of my heart, pushing the limits of possession and responsibility. I felt for someone I didn't yet know but named. Yet quickly, I discovered how selfish my heart truly was.  My schedule was often disrupted for these beautiful little lives that were just so needy and dependent.  For the first time, I felt the regression of love in my selfish frustration as a parent.  And again, I see selfishness in my choosing to limit love in marriage.  It sounds awful, but it's honest.  I married an amazing woman just a handful of months ago, and again, I'm realizing just how selfish I can be.  There's the ebb and flow I alone allow, the back and forth of giving and taking in the form of love and selfishness.  I am one of five in our family and I fight when they want losing a bit more control of how and when life happens. I. Me. I demand for my way, justifying rudeness and trouncing too hard through beautifully blooming love. All in the quest of satisfying me.

Love is patient, love is kind . . . love is Christ.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

In life as we move in and out of conversations brushing shoulders with others regular to our day and in the intimate circle of family and marriage, the act of giving is holy, set apart from the speed of battling with our hearts, our hands clinching for self-satisfaction.  Let us quiet our efforts, gain victory through Christ and only then, love well.


the discipline of love.

“Love is friendship set on fire.”Jeremy Taylor

“Does everyone leave?”

My daughter, aged young, eyes wide observing, told me stories about friends’ families broken or breaking.  There was a curiosity in her asking.  A wondering of love building expectations to be held in her heart for now and ahead.  My hands clinched the steering wheel a bit stronger, and I sat a little stiffer in hearing her say of her friend believing her mom would probably return in a couple days.

“She said probably in a couple days her mom will be back.” “Do you think so, Dad?” “Does everyone leave?”

Our hearts diseased with self, infected with independence roam to be satisfied.  The satisfaction, we call love, our hearts happy and served and content in the shallow.  The deep undisturbed.  Years together do not equal love.  Close but not connected, no matter how long, is like neighbors under one roof with the option of moving never officially dismissed.  Love is not found in a bar or a car.  I heard that somewhere when I was young, and it’s actually great advice.  A precise uncovering of love truer than we are led to know.  We find love not where we look, but in the exact spot we allow ourselves to be found.  To be found can be quite troubling when we are too busy searching and grabbing and keeping for ourselves happiness.  So we synonymously connect sex to love and cheapen the chance, run eventually and our hearts shut a bit tighter.  Our hearts are not conditioned to love, but we want it.  Happy.  Everyone wants happy and that proves problematic.  The divide ever widening between wanting love and actually getting there.  Instead, love is romanticized and bludgeoned to an unrecoverable end with thoughts of smiles and sex and white picket fences forever.  What few know and fewer find is that work is required.  Love is discovered in death.  It takes a strong discipline to die enough for room to be made in your heart for another and you in theirs.  Both forever and lasting.

That’s the stuff of true romance.  Not trouncing lightly on rose pedals and lying easy under an always clear sky, but cutting through brush losing the path in steps, crossing rushing rivers in storming skies and forging up slippery slopes.  Love is discovery and adventure.  Love is sweat and swearing while you reach to pull out of moments when you only want to slide back into selfish alone.  Sitting at the dinner table colder than happy, ready to run, pushing out your clinched fist to open your hand to hold the hand known by your heart and wearing your symbol given on a much sunnier day, and allowing the moment to pass without words but together, there in the moment that is love, too.  That is right where love deepens and soars both at the same time.  In the discipline, love is truly found. “No, not everyone leaves.  But I want you to know that relationships are tough.  They take work and are not always easy but always worth it.  Always.”

Love is found in the giving not receiving.  It is in the receiving that you hold it as love holds a heart that was once two now lost singularly.