The other night, long after I should have gone to bed, I found myself scrolling down the never ending, eternally generating images of my pinterest feed.
Truthfully, I had decided to paint my nails, and I was waiting for them to dry. And I had somehow selected a nail polish with magical, never-dry properties, so what was I to do besides sit down on the bathroom floor and scroll through pinterest for a couple of hours?
And I saw this graphic – you pinteresty people will know what I mean – a quote in swirling typography laid over, in this case, some painted flowers. Your standard, emotive Words With Meaning* pin.
It said: “Sweet one, you are loved”.
And underneath a very sweet friend had captioned it something like, “I want to tell this to every girl and tell them how God feels”.
What caught me wasn’t the quote-ishness, and it certainly wasn’t the colorfully-rendered lilies. Nor was it the kind and genuine desire of the caption, or the gendered-ness of it (boys need to be told that they are loved, too, amiright?)
I was caught by my own defensive, knee jerk reaction – I have no desire to go telling people that God loves them.
At least not strangers. Not everyone.
Which is weird, right?
Because I believe in God. I believe in this conscious being that is somehow creator and orchestrator and judge and wisdom and mercy. And I do believe that God loves people, in all their mess, in all the failing, even when they’re trampling each other to buy bras at Victoria Secret because BLACK FRIDAY I MUST HAVE IT NOW!!!
And I remember sitting beside my friends on the wide, carpeted steps of our “youth cove” knees pulled up to my chest, singing into the dark, and feeling so loved. And then the lights came up and the charge was given: go into your schools. Be salty light. Tell those heathen classmates how loved they are.
No one ever really called them heathens.
With the unspoken understanding that those who kept quiet were a) ashamed of God and b) more concerned with “looking cool” than the fate of their peers’ eternal souls.
But I mostly just felt like c) I know a whole lot of people who want to be told they’re loved by God even less than they want to be told they’re loved by Santa Clause, and I would prefer not to offend and alienate those people. Because they’re nice and I like them.
Mostly, I’ve never been very comfortable as an evangelist.
So I sit on the bathroom floor and wonder again at the Going and the Telling.
Because sometimes I think we’re too concerned with the words, with the convincing, with the Right Answers.
And I wonder what if we maybe tried a different strategy?
What if we just show them what God’s love might look like?
You know, instead of talking them to death, what if we just love people like God?
Love them when they’re inconvenient.
Love them when they’re greedy.
Love them when they’re annoying.
Love them when they’re late.
Love them when they’re lazy.
Love them when they cut you off and they’re so rude and why are these stupid ignorant people so inconsiderate and he could have just waited five seconds.
Love them when they’re 11 and no one’s introduced them to deodorant, and they have no idea that they need it.
Love them when they’re selfish.
Love them when their reality doesn’t meet your expectations.
Love them when they should have done better.
Love them when they could have done better.
Love them when you disagree about everything, and they are so indisputably wrong.
Love them when they’re crying, when they’re pathetic, when they should be over it already.
Love them when they take 36 items into the 15 or less check-out line.
Love them not because you like them and not because they were particularly nice to you.
Love them because they don’t deserve it.
Love them without expectation or agenda.
Love them because they exist. Because they were created.
Love because they are there, in front of you, in your way.
Love them because you share humanity’s broken anguish. Love them because you partake of the same graceful hope.
And maybe someday they’ll ask. Maybe someday they’ll want to hear what you have to say.
Maybe if our love didn’t come with so many pre-requisites, people might have reason to believe in unconditional love.
*It may sound like I’m making fun of them, but I’m not**.
**Well, actually I am***.
***But I love emotive Words With Meaning pins. I have a whole board of them. It’s the kind of pin I would be if I were a pin. Or a delicious cookie recipe. I might also be a delicious cookie recipe…But you get the point.