"I have never known the freedom of undemanding love like we are experiencing." - My friend who lost his young son, concerning the love he is receiving from the family of Jesus.
"I am trying to give everything and require nothing." - My friend who is fighting for his fragile marriage and family, and learning how to be a Christ-like husband to his wife and father to his children.
We are so convinced that we need something from someone that we expend incredible amounts of time, energy and effort to get it. Be it through persuasion, manipulation, rallying opinion leaders to our side, throwing fits, hostile takeovers, emotional blackmail or whatever...some do it as second nature and have stopped even noticing it in themselves or others, let alone confronting it in order to consider a better way of life.
Have you ever know the freedom of undemanding love?
Do you know the freedom of giving undemanding love?
After growing up in my particular brand of dysfunctional family (we all have one), I was convinced that I needed my family to change in order to have peace, joy, and contentedness. So I expended incredible amounts of time, energy, and effort thinking about it and trying to get it. I had plenty of other things to do, but underneath was this undone thing that I really thought I needed. It was the day in history when I explosively "felt" the undemanding love of God that I began the journey of letting all that go. Sure enough, not only do I not need my family to change a thing for me to be happy, but I could still care deeply about them changing without ever needing it to happen. Ironically, I think I became the best change agent possible for a human being on the day that I stopped needing anyone in my family to change.
My next challenge was the first cousin of this one, although I couldn't see its relation at all, and would've argued against it, at the time. See, my family's dysfunction brought out the very best of my church family's dysfunction toward us. So while I didn't need anyone to change "for me", I started working for and with my church family to change "for the world". I was convinced that I needed the church to change in order to have peace, joy and contentedness. So I expended incredible amounts of time, energy, and effort thinking about it and trying to get it. I had plenty of other things to do, but underneath was this undone thing that I really thought I needed. It was the day in history when I "saw" that the connection between my "needing my family to change" and "needing my church family to change" was the same tune, different verse. So I applied the same undemanding love that God gave me, and that I gave my family, to the church. Ironically, once I didn't "need" the church to change (and again, it had nothing to do with apathy), I think I became the best change agent possible that a human being can be for the church.
I believe that God sent me a family that "needs fixing" and a church family that "needs fixing" so that he could engage in his beautiful work of fixing me. Not that I'm fixed, or that he is done, but I give Him the glory that I am past the days where I am, as a rule, ignorant of myself when I'm feeling any need from anyone for anything.
Having said that, I want all of you, my friends who read this, to know something.
- I love you just the way you are. I promise to always do so.
- I have no expectation of nor do I need you to change one thing one thing for me to love you and appreciate you in all the beauty that God has placed in you.
- I desire with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength for you to change - in any way that will give you more peace, joy, and "life" - and would do anything for you to be able to do so (except need you to do it).
- I will always look behind your behavior for it's motivation, and will assume that it makes perfect sense - no matter how bizarre or irrational it appears to you or anyone else - once I love you enough to understand you.
- And I will reflect back what I see to you for your (and my) continued healing, whenever, but only if, I feel invited to do so.
This is my loving resolve and commitment to my family (which now includes my own wife and children), to my church family (past, present, and future), and to anyone in the whole world who finds their way into my life (and I into theirs).
And finally, as I finish this piece where I sound so sure of myself and so confident and committed, let me give you this story as an offering of my continued weakness in this realm...
I was at lunch with a friend yesterday. He and I are both leaving next week for trips out of country to love in the name of Christ. He has become one of my favorite people to hang with. He is not from my family or church family, but is one of those "in the whole world" who stumbled into relationship with me, and he has been a very large highlight of my life over the last year. He has ushered me into his relationships, too. I have been blessed to meet his mother, step-father, his son from a past life, his office, his friends. We both think way more highly of the other than either of us think of ourselves, and in relationships like that, you can demand from each other without being demanding.
I was feeling quite lively yesterday as we talked, and as I was "reflecting back to him" what I was hearing him say in a somewhat comical and condemning fashion, and we shared in the laughter that comes from honesty, truth, being uncensored, and having total acceptance and undemanding love for one another (in other words, "brotherhood"), I said, "It's hard to be friends with me sometimes, isn't it?"
Looking back on that quick, spur-of-the-moment question, I think I was feeling a little insecure. I think I was still "needing him to be okay with me" the way I am (the way I described in those 5 points of resolve listed above). I would hate for anyone to feel like it's hard to be friends with me. But to demand that everyone (or anyone, for that matter) say that it's not hard to be friends with me would not be the undemanding love that I myself am so desperate for, and am doing my best to offer to the world.
Shew! It's a life-long journey, isn't it? And I praise God that there is always more ground to take, and that He intends on taking it, without needing me to.