A Few Thoughts on Love
There are words upon words written about love. But perhaps one of my favorite explanations is one that uses not a single word. It’s a children’s Christmas book Ben’s mom introduced us to a few years ago, and it has become a family favorite around here for both kids and adults.
A Small Miracle, by Peter Collington is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story, entirely in pictures, of a lonely woman just trying to get by. Affectionately dubbed “the old lady” by my kids, the joy of the Christmas season seems to have fizzled for her, though through no fault of her own. On the verge of poverty and with no way to provide for her most basic needs, she sells her most prized possession, her accordion. On her way home from the pawn shop she is robbed, stripped of her money and any remaining dignity. Weak from too long a fast, she passes out in the snow. And that’s where the magic of the story begins.
The figures of the nativity scene from a little country church she had passed by earlier in the story now come to life and rush to her aid. They set to work, first carrying her back to her small trailer home in a field of snow, then each one tending to some aspect of her needs.
This is probably my favorite picture in the book. The scene unfolding here is, in my opinion, the perfect example of love in action.
Why? Because everyone is showing up for the “old lady” just as they are. Mary provides a comforting presence…Joseph chops firewood and mends the floor…the wise men use their material wealth to buy provisions, food and her beloved accordion, as well as their apparent kitchen know-how to craft a nourishing meal (who knew they were such chefs?). The shepherd uses his bravery and skill to take down the robber (pictured previously) and bring back her money.
Everyone’s doing their thing- not all the things, just their thing- and it’s beautiful. Sometimes God asks us to get out of our comfort zone and do things that go against our natural gifts. But more often than not, He uses us right where we are with what we have. We just have to show up.
The very essence of love is showing up and showing people that they matter.
Jesus did this in the best way (I mean, He is Love, after all). He showed up in the form of a little baby on that first Christmas and has stuck around ever since. He got right in our mess, right down in the trenches and settled in for a good long while, undeterred by all of our tomfoolery and utter humanness. He showed up with patience, compassion, grace and mercy, and the fiercest sacrificial love anyone could ever know. He did it before you or I could even ask him to, before we could even know how desperately we needed it, needed him. He did it because we matter to him. YOU matter to him.
Beloved, rest in this this Christmas: Where you are and what you have to offer are enough.
Wether you are a Mary, a Joseph, a wise man (or woman), a shepherd, or even an “old lady” in need of tender loving care, you matter. You don’t have to do any more or be any better than you are right now. Your people, the world, your Father in heaven need you, want you, exactly the way you are today. You are a blessing and a joy. You are loved beyond measure.
Oh, and I also want to tell you this (and I’m mostly talking to the mamas now) : The greatest gift you can give right now is to receive.
Yes, you heard me right. Receive the gift of perfect love already given to you. That is, the gift of perfect and redeeming love of Jesus. Bask in all its extravagance. Soak it up completely, without feeling one pang of guilt. Without feeling the need to get up and immediately do something about it. Imagine how crushed He must feel when we brush his precious gift to the side, too busy to be bothered with such seeming frivolity. Sit down and just be loved. I know it sounds hard and completely indulgent. I know you have groceries to get and just more load of laundry to do and rooms to tidy and children’s eyes to dazzle. As a people-pleasing mom of three I understand this as well as anyone. But when the presents are unwrapped and the meals have been devoured and the decorations are put away and the tree taken down…love will remain.
This Christmas, receive the lasting gift of knowing completely that you are seen, you are known, you are loved, and you matter so very much.