This social climate is about to make me crazy.  Political agendas, attacks on personal freedoms, arguing and debating and name calling.  It’s enough to make many of my friends take a hiatus from Facebook.  I considered it myself, and then I thought of all the fun and witty people that I love checking in with, and I decided to just hide from my view those who choose to use social media for promoting negativity.

Maybe you know me.  Maybe you don’t.  Am I a liberal?  A conservative?  Do I support this legislation or that?

Does it really matter?

In all this recent campaigning and free-speeching and right-wing-left-wing bashing, I have had to answer several questions posed by my children.  Questions that I don’t really want them having to think about at ages 10 and 12.  But, if they are going to have questions, I pray that God will give me the appropriate answers for them. This has been my prayer for the past several weeks.

I had a revelation a few years ago when my young cousin was diagnosed with cancer.  Cardiac sarcoma, they called it.  Cancer of the heart.  Rare.  Aggressive.  And brutal.  So damn brutal.  On Easter weekend of 2008 I wrote, “We are made to seek God in each other. Being made in his image, to me, is not about our faces… it is about our hearts.  Heart. The word almost sticks in my throat.  Sam, there is so much more to your heart than meets the doctor’s eye.”

That revelation grew over the course of time and I began to understand my purpose, if not everyone’s purpose, on this earth.  God is Love, right?  So being made in God’s image means we are given the ability to love as he loves.  We have everything we need to fulfill our purpose already.  We have all the tools, all the working parts.  We just have to learn to use them.  We have to learn to love.  We have to learn to love as God loves.  This existence on earth is our classroom setting.

(Side note: I know many people who do not believe in God, but they do believe in goodness.  So I think this applies across the board, if you’re willing to let it. Just sayin’.)

I believe, and I want my children to believe, that everything we have on this earth – our homes, our bank accounts, our struggles, our deathbeds, our birthdays, our illnesses and our celebrations – are ours for the sole purpose of helping us LEARN.  We must first understand that these experiences are no reflection of our own merit
or worth, but rather of our capacity to learn and love.  We must use these tools and gifts and situations to teach ourselves (and each other) how to love the way we are supposed to.

And how are we supposed to love?  It’s right there in the second-most-important commandment as told to us in the red text: “Love your neighbor as you love yourselves.”

So first, I must love God. Above all else.

And then, I must love myself.

So that I will know how to love everyone else.

I have to practice this.  Every day.  Every single day.

I am given one day at a time.  Apparently, that’s all I can handle. (Lord, don’t I know it and show it!!)  You too, huh?

So I must use today and make a conscious effort to learn to love as God loves.  To see people as God sees them.  To look past their faces, and past their words, to see their hearts.  To see God – the core of what I personally believe to be right and pure and good – in them.  Each and every one of them.  Each and every day.

Some people make it really difficult to love them.  Today I realized that maybe those people are like little God-given pop-quizzes.  They come at me unexpected, and they test me on the spot.

How do I fare on these quizzes? If the past weeks are any indication, I need to brush up on my skills.

So I will take today and work on my capacity for love.  And at the end of the day I will ask myself, “Did I love as much as I could today?”  And if I am given tomorrow, I will repeat and try to fine-tune the process.

God willing, I will teach my children to do the same.  And maybe – just maybe – peace on earth really will begin at home.

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