Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Look of Love

Back in the 80s during an unusual era of music, ABC had a hit song - “The Look of Love” – that I thought of recently. Even though the examples don’t fit the lyrics of the song, I still could hear the tune as I penned this blog post.

Throughout my life, I have had a slight misconception about love. I thought it was purely a feeling and I often found myself frustrated when the “warm, fuzzies” weren’t a part of my life.

Years later, though, I finally “get” that love is way more complex and cannot possibly be totally contained in feelings alone. And often love is easier to comprehend when you actually see it in action.

Love truly is a verb.

Although I’ve most likely had the ability to actually see love before, it has only been recently that I’ve truly noticed that love does have a look. And that look takes on different forms.

I am blessed with a myriad of people who are literally caretakers in my life. I sometimes think when Hilary Clinton gave her “It takes a village to raise a child” speech, she had me in mind as well. Being a single adult with no really close family members living in the greater Corinth area, I am pretty much on my own. So I rely on the kindness of strangers close friends to fill in the gaps when I simply can’t do it myself any longer.

Visual love shows up in friends bringing food to my home during the times I’ve been sick recently. Love has taken the form of the shoulders I have cried on during some of the more difficult, heart-wrenching times of my life. The looks of love have reassured me that the old adage really is true – what doesn’t kill me really does make me stronger.

There are times when so much has been going on that I feel like Goliath, honestly.

I see love when I go to visit friends and their four-year-old son tells me to sit down on the couch because “you’re never going home.” It’s amazing how good it makes you feel knowing you’re so accepted by someone that they never want you to leave even if it isn’t realistic. His older brother often plops down beside me on the couch and uses my shoulder as a headrest. Whenever I’m in another room and he doesn’t hear me talking, he always asks if I’m still there making sure I’ve not left without telling him goodbye. Like I’d leave there without a hug from him!

And watching the two of them skitter around whenever I come to their house literally warms the inner most regions of my heart. Children are very honest; when they show you they love you, they truly mean it! I believe in those two little boys so much that if they told me they could fly, I’d go outside and look up.

I saw love Saturday as I watched Alicia wash my filthy car. It was a beautiful day to do anything outside, but I never dreamed the spring like day would include manual labor. I’m fairly certain Archer, Tripp and I didn’t help knock off the dirt that much – what little we spent actually working - even though I was the only one of the quartet who could easily wash the top of the car.

I’m quite certain I’d never mentioned to her how slightly embarrassed I’d become driving a filthy vehicle. I would’ve already washed it myself, but someone misplaced the handle to the outdoor faucet. Because she saw a need in my life and met it, though, Alicia allowed me to see love in action.

A look of love can even be seen from long distance. I see it often when “Carry On My Wayward Son” (yeah, I roll old school on my tones) alerts me to a text message and I see “I love you, Kim Jobe” on the screen of my cell phone. Ninety-nine.nine percent of the time the message is from one of my closest friends, Janet. Although we are geographically challenged with her living in Clinton and me living in Corinth, we take advantage of technology to keep tabs on one another. Our friendship has spanned decades and even though we have sometimes gone years without communication, there is not a doubt in my mind that Janet loves me. I’ve seen a look of love from her numerous times.

I’ve seen other “looks of love” from long distance – my friend, Michelle, who has remained one of my fiercest supporters and close confidants for decades. Although there have been times I have doubted and questioned almost everything in my life and reevaluated every single relationship I had, I’ve never once questioned her loyalty or friendship. Not once. That’s huge!

Michelle is always among the first phone calls I make in times of crisis, sadness or rejoicing. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to spend the biggest part of a week with her in DC recently.

Today, I even saw the “look of love” in action on my way to church. It came from a couple I didn’t even know. As I stopped by my office to pick up the weekend newspapers, I noticed two people walking down the hiking/biking trail. I tend to notice when someone uses it because, well, it gets less usage then was projected during the construction phase of the project.

Bibles in hand, I had no doubt where the elderly couple was headed (I use that term “elderly” lightly because they were walking more spryly than I ever world be) toward Tate Baptist Church. That in itself was special enough to observe, but two other details made the observation special. The man lovingly held the woman’s left hand in his right in such a manner that you knew it was a natural – and regular – occurrence. But the looks on their faces were priceless. Although they weren’t looking directly at each other as they chatted while taking a leisurely stroll to church, the countenance on their faces betrayed their hearts. They had the look of love and it showed.

Sitting in my car, watching from a distance I longed for that look. And quickly reminded God of what I believe He will deliver one day. Someone I can walk hand-in-hand with along a pathway while those around me see a specific look of love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My point ... and I have one!

I was invited to speak to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Corinth Junior High School. I had my friend, Alicia, read this over for me and give it her seal of approval. My friend, Marea, came to support me which was loads of fun. Of course, this is just the outline of what I said - I added some here and there!

What’s the point?

You have probably asked yourself or your friends or your family members or even your teachers that very question – or one similar to it – numerous times thus far in your life. Sometimes you have asked it out of frustration. Other times you have asked it out of desperation. And yet other times you have simply asked that question in an effort to avoid answering other questions.

And I’d wager that much of the time you haven’t received a very good response in return for your question have you?

Everything in life has a purpose. And much of the time you have a role to play in that purpose.

There’s a familiar passage of scripture in the Old Testament that discusses purpose fairly thoroughly and states that everything has a purpose. It’s found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and I’d like to read it to you from The Message translation of the Bible:

1 There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

With that in mind, you can see there’s a purpose for algebra, and politics, for curfews and being grounded, MCT2 tests and even for, well, Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers, I guess.

But seriously, even knowing that everything in life has a purpose, you sometimes don’t always know what it is all the time. Or at the time you REALLY want to know what the purpose is for you to be in the middle of various circumstances in your life.

I’d like to stand here as an adult and tell you that there comes a time in life when you know the purpose for everything. I wish that were the case, but it isn’t. But as you get older, the purpose of some things that once seemed so very important to you either make a whole lot of sense to you finally. Or their importance in your life diminishes to a point that it’s not such a major thing for you.

Take heart and be encouraged, though. You have a purpose in life and a destiny to fulfill although it’s not always that clear to see. How do I know this? Because Jeremiah 29:11 states that God has a definite purpose for your life – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

That’s the same God who created and controls the universe – and He has a plan just for you. So take heart, and don’t give up but look to Him to show you the purpose for your life. You have a special one that only you can fulfill. Ask Him to show you what He wants you to do now and in the future. And then be obedient to Him and walk in the purpose He has for you.

That, most likely, is your point.