Without a doubt, the most influential book I have ever read was a book that I only discovered several months ago, Love Does by Bob Goff. The message of the book is simple; love does. Love is not something that we simply say, love is something we do, love is something we were meant to embody. Something about the way Bob makes love simple in a world that insists that love is hard and complicated and messy is what led me allow the words of a man I had never met to change me. I realized I was a person who made it complicated. While I have always considered myself a person of loving nature, I realized that there was a lot of things I had to learn about the way I approached my life.
“Things that go wrong can shape us or scar us.”
I have had a lot of things go wrong in my life, just like any other human to walk this earth. There are sometimes when it seems easier to use the things that have gone wrong in my life as an excuse to act a certain way, but in all honesty, I do not want my scars to be scars, I want them to be pivotal points in my story. I want to transform into someone who can use the things that have happened to me as my motivation to love better, to love braver. Love never scars us, it just makes us into the person we were made to be.
“It has always seemed to me that broken things, just like broken people, get used more; it’s probably because God has more pieces to work with.”
I used to think that the idea that someone like me could make an impact on the lives of others seemed silly. However, the times in my life when I allowed God to use me, in ways that were totally and completely out of my comfort zone, that is when I saw God present himself. This past November, I was on a plane to Chicago to meet my dad to go to a conference where Bob Goff happened to be speaking. While on the plane, an anxiety attack got the better of me, and I ended up throwing up on myself before the plane ever took off. Horrified as I was, this ended up being one of the most fulfilling plane rides I had ever had.
After explaining to the stewardess on the plane that I have an anxiety disorder and that no I was not motion sick, and yes I would be just fine, I heard the voice of the women sitting next to me speak up. She asked me about my anxiety, about the things I had struggled with, and how I dealt with this struggle. She explained to me the reason she was in Columbus was that her grown son had just been diagnosed with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder, and she had been in town to help him figure out what that looked like for him. I knew that this was God. God had humbled me so that I could be vulnerable, he gave me an opportunity to be brave, in a moment where I felt very broken. By the end of the flight this woman shared how thankful she was to have been sat next to me, despite everything. We prayed for her son, and she told me she was able to go home with a new sense of hope, with a faith that his diagnosis was not the defining moment in his story. To be honest though, that flight changed me in a way I had never experienced, and this woman gave me more hope than any stranger ever had. My greatest weakness became my greatest strength, and I pray for more moments such as those. Because love is honest, and love is vulnerable.
“When people realize there’s no agenda other than friendship and better understanding, it changes things.”
I can tell you right now in this moment, I have never felt more loved. The reason is simple. I have stumbled upon people who love me simply for who I am, nothing more, nothing less. I spent a lot of my time in friendships and relationships where I felt as if I was a pawn in some agenda, or like my friendship alone was not enough. However, the people I somehow find myself lucky enough to spend all my time with simply want to talk and get to know the things that God put on my heart. They have nurtured me, and helped me become someone who is able to return that kind of love. A love that does not judge, or plot, or scheme, because love isn't about those things. Love understands. Love changes our hearts, no matter if it is given or received.
“Jesus told the people He was with that it’s not enough to just look like you love God. He said we’d know the extent of our love for God by how well we loved people.”
Without a doubt, this is the most important thing I learned. This is what I took away from Love Does. I am nowhere near perfect at loving people, but I'm getting better everyday. I lose my patience, I can be harsh and lack understanding, but then I remember something so simple. I am loved by the person who designed what the stars look like at night, the person who knew the world needed sunshine, and the ocean, and any and all other beautiful things. He loves me despite the moments when I feel I do not deserve love. How well I love others shows how well I love my savior. I am filled to the brim with a love for life, because I love the one who gives me life. A person who put a beating heart in my chest, and filled it to the brim with all the passions and talents I get to spend my life pursuing, in all those things, I get to glorify someone who loves me without question. I am able to love, because I have been shown love. Love is just. Love is not earned, it is simply given.
"I've realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter.”
There are a lot of things that I am afraid at failing at. I'm afraid of failing in my friendships and relationships, of letting down or hurting the people that I love. I am afraid of not ever being a 'serious writer' or that my words won't resonate with anyone. I am afraid of not living up to all that I was created to be. But to be honest, I fail at things every single day, and the world is still here, living life as normal. However scary these things might be to me, I would rather spend my life working to make myself better, than to waste my time on pointless things. I want to live a life where the gifts God placed in me are nurtured, rather than wasting my life getting really good at things that do not give me a sense of purpose. Love is fulfilling. Love is scary, in all the best ways.
I understand that by the time my life passes by that love may not be given the way I believe it should be. I know not everyone will go to bed with the feeling that love changed them, and made them a better addition to the human race, but I know one thing. Love is not stationary, love is endless, and it is always on the move. Love refuses to be ignored. Love is loud. Simply put; love just does.