Dec 29, 2009

recollections on how to love well

"how we spend our days is how we spend our lives" ~ annie dillard

recently i've been reflecting over the ways in which i live my life. i suppose you can say i have come to a point when i am bogged down by the temptation to believe "is this all there is?"... for the greater portion of 8 years i have been walking with christ. it has been a clumsy adventure - the 2 steps forward 1 step back sort. there have been days of extreme delight, so much so i thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest. and there have been nights of the deepest darkness my soul has ever endured, nights when i loathed the thought of dawn because i knew i'd have to face another day. but then there are moments when nothingness blankets the palette of emotions. these are perhaps the worst moments of all - because scripturally we are promised that we will receive the desires of our heart as well as persecutions and troubles, but to succumb to the numbness of the nothingness is to in a terrifying sense, give up. though i find myself entangled in the mess of nothing, i refuse to give up.

"i went to the woods because i wish to live deliberately" ~ henri david thoreau

i want to live deliberately. i want the ways that i live my days to be a breathtaking reflection of the prayer of my heart, "that i may love the lord my god with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind" i want to, as paralyzed as i may feel towards it, step out in faith and love others with the love of christ. how do i do this? for weeks i have been asking christ how i can love others well. what can i - brianna millett, a seemingly aimless wanderer, possibly direct others to the intoxicating, transforming and redeeming love of jesus? to seek an answer i first began to recall the times in life when i feel the most loved.

gary chapman is best known for his work "the 5 love languages". in this book mr. chapman describe 5 fundamental ways that people both give and receive love. these facets consist of:
1.) acts of service 2.) physical affection 3.) quality time 4.) words of affirmation and 5.) gifts.
i know that in a romantic relationship i equally need both physical affection as well as quality time. but in every other relationship, it is the quality time that prevails. if i am going to show you that i love you i will invite you over to dinner, i will take a walk or go for a run with you, i will sit down and share a cup of coffee and listen to your heart. and it is when others do this for me that i leave their presence filled with the confidence of knowing that they love me. so there i have recollection #1 - i feel loved and i give love through quality time.
"but i, i love it when you read to me." ~ peter gabriel
words carry with them a certain indescribable power. i am an english minor. i love literature. there have been many books and quotes that have inspired me throughout the years. in moments of the aforementioned emotions of delight, pain, and numbness - the literature of others utter forth the articulation required when our emotions capsize our ability to speak with our lips. in my prayer times i often encounter deep silence, so deep that i am physical unable to speak. this is where the the psalmists speak for me. there is nothing more powerful that reciting verses for my king. what better way to pray than with the very words of god? his word is sacred and transforming. i have studied british literature, american literature, radical non-fiction enthusiasts and the highly simplistic yet beautifully profound poetry of the ancient mystics of past. i love to be read to. my soul is transported into an entirely different world when i can sit back and listen to the creative carvings of other's minds. similarly, i love to converse about books. when something rocks my mind it is of paramount desire that i muse over it with another. thus we have recollection #2 - i love words, speaking words and reading words.
"i dress a wound in the side, deep, deep." walt whitman
lastly, i have a passion for women. i long for women both young and old to taste and see the truth of their identity. i take to heart the command in scripture for older women to mentor younger women. this is the great joy of my life, to mentor younger women and share in life with them. for 2 years i had an incredibly wise, tender and selfless woman speaking words of encouragement, truth and love into my life. without her i would not be the woman i am today. it is my prayer that i can offer this same kind of love to other ladies. there is no greater time than there is today for woman to rise up and reclaim the truth of their identities. for years mine was snatched away and i walked around aping those around me and living my days behind the mask of falsity. but through the mercy and grace of christ, i have been transformed by the truth that i am the daughter of the king. just as walt whitman couldn't not minister to the wounded soldiers in the hospitals of the civil war, so too i can't not minister to the wounded identities of the women of this generation. finally we have recollection #3 -i love (or hope to) invite others to proclaim the truth of their god-given identity.
so what does all this mean? to be honest, i'm not quite sure. but i have some ideas. these are the joys that christ has developed within me. i have been hiding them under a basket and in doing so, they have not been liberated to shine in the radiant ways that they are created to. living intentionally breathes trust. spending times with others reveals the love of christ. words speak the sacred, transforming power of god. and mentoring others through the love of the holy spirit invites them to to receive the truth of who they are as the beloved.

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