Will I ever learn to love all the animals in the barnyard? It is not as easy as it seems.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. ~1John 4:7
I have held this little bird so tightly in my hand I have nearly suffocated him to death. I am afraid if I let go he will fly away, never to return and my heart will be broken.
A new lamb has been born! She’s cute and soft and leaps with such enthusiasm. It has grabbed all of my attention. I’ve placed everything I have ever dreamed upon her. Surely, my hopes will flower here. I have given this lamb my all. In moments when I am with her, I wonder if I have ever loved the pig lying in the mud doing nothing.
There are times when tending this farm exhausts me. I want to sit with my dog, lay my head upon his chest and close my eyes. I don’t want to get up to feed the goat who bleats. I think of walks in the woods and times of greater ease.
The turkeys I have rejected all together. How can I love a turkey? I’m afraid their pea-sized hearts may never get more than their own gobble. More honestly, will their tiny eyes ever see me for who I am? The truth is, they may never love me, ever.
Then there’s the lion, everyone knows you can’t have a lion on a farm. Never-the-less, I found one the other day roaming about the field. He scared me half to death, but his beautiful mane and fierce roar called to me. I wanted to hide. I was afraid. Will he eat the other animals? Will he eat me? Can I trust and love a mighty lion? I do, and don’t know how.
Will I ever get it?
I have responded to the turkey when the lion has called and to the lamb when the dog needed me.
If love never fails, if love endures forever, what am I afraid of?
I am a broken, failing lover.
Help me find my way!
Who will tend the animals on the farm, if it isn’t me and you? They are in desperate need of love and I am afraid of many things.
Bow Down in Prayer
The gym on the rowing machine is an unlikely place to pray, but I prayed low to the ground on a plastic seat with bent knees. It didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t go on.
“Mother Mary, I am in no state to pray. I don’t know what’s wrong.”
“Come and sit in my love,” she said so I knelt down in front of her, lowered my head and did nothing. Slowly that hard edge began to melt. I was afraid I would not be loved if I were nothing more than me.
How long ago was it that I began to believe I am not the one who unravels my problems in my imagination? What about you?
The following morning, I lamented my failings at love. How many times have I ask for a map? What should I do? How should I love this one or that one? I heard nothing. Silence. God was silent.
From these sorrows, I wrote what I hoped I could do instead. Three days later, I realized I had that map I so longed to have. God is good like that sometimes showing up so gently that it takes me days to recognize He has finally answered me.
Can You Give Me a Map?
I am learning to love the birds with an open hand that they might fly where they are called, yet my hand is open waiting for their return.
Let me love the lamb who brings something new and let me love my familiar pack of dogs. There is no old relationship that cannot be renewed. There is no new relationship that will not become familiar. There is room for new and old, room for more love. There is never a need to choose between one or the other.
I will not make my love exclusive. I will not discard one for another. I will not turn the lion away. My heart and yours were meant to expand so wide that it hurts when it’s stretched until that too becomes familiar.
May I recognize when you call and have the strength to get up if you need me, even when I am tired.
Let me love the one who calls in the moment trusting that the other who stands beside us will know that my heart and yours is so big that we can love them both.
May I have the courage not to push you away when I am afraid. There are times when I do not know how to love you at all. When I am floundering, would you, could you – show me how to love – when I fail?
Let me follow the example of how to love a turkey. May I love so boldly that even in the face of rejection, I will love no matter how much it hurts.
An Open Hand
This is my road map. I loved a turkey the other day. It hurt, I did not die.
Instead, I shared in that agony of rejection with Jesus and offered that suffering on behalf of the turkey, the one who rejected me for his own benefit. I didn’t need it. In that moment, I knew my walk was perfect.
I am learning to love like Christ, with an open hand that never lets go.
Would you add another lament that comes with something new for the map? There are seven that I have named, but I have left room for you to name another.