The other night I went to a barbecue my friends were hosting at their home in Pasadena (the location is irrelevant by the way… but, I suppose, if you life in the LA area it is a fun point of reference). It was the perfect Summer evening. We sat at a picnic table in the back yard, under a huge tree whose branches perfectly filtered the golden light shimmering off the setting sun. A cool evening breeze kindly brought relief from the heat of the day and conversation flowed with the wine and beer (chilled of course, we aren’t savages).
At one point in the evening I found myself in a conversation with my friends brother, an ex-pro golfer, life coach, and public speaker (I find him fascinating). He was telling us a story about how he had seen Drew and I at Trader Joes the week prior and wanted to say hi, but was caught in a surprisingly long conversation with the girl giving out samples in the corner. The obvious question was “so… did you get her number?!” Thane laughed (oh yeah… forgot to mention the most fascinating thing about him, which is that his name is THANE, I think he may be the other brother of Thor… kind of like the bonus Jonas that no one ever talks about [Hey Frankie, we see you]) Anyways… Thane laughed and said, “No we were talking about my shirt.” We all gave him a quizzical look. “My shirt said ‘Choose Love’.” He explained, “It is from this organization called CharacterStrong which has key note speakers who go into schools to talk about different subjects- though their primary goal is to normalize kindness. Anyways, she asked me what I thought that meant to choose love.”
In the moment Thane told her about the organization and its impact on kids in schools (which is epic) and realized when he finally walked away from the sample station that a) he didn’t really answer her question, b) he totally forgot to get his sample and c) Drew and I were long gone by then (truthfully, I don’t think he thought about us at all in that moment). Given that he failed to answer her question, I felt compelled to ask, “So, what does it mean to you to ‘choose love’?”
“To choose the other, see the other and consider what is best for them and not just yourself” He said. A+ answer right? Ladies, he is single and looking for a future Mrs. Ex-Pro Golfer, Life Coach, and Public Speaker, just saying. He then turned the question back around to me, “What does it mean to you?”
I went full Marianne Williamson (of course) and said, “Choosing love means NOT choosing fear. Racism, Sexism, judgement, self hatred, etc. are all rooted in fear. Fear of the other, fear of failure, fear of accountability, fear of success, fear of love itself, fear of vulnerability… To choose love is to say no to fear and stand in the power of something so much greater.” It’s ok, you can be impressed, I surprised even myself with that one (Marianne, you taught me well).
That question is so sticky isn’t it? What does it mean to Choose Love? (Thank you sample girl). So I would like to pose that question to you- What does choosing love mean to you?
As I closed my eyes for prayer and meditation this morning I had a vision (don’t worry I’m not crazy, it’s just how God tells me things I need to remember… I had learning issues as a child and if I visualized something I would remember it, my imagination is the key to my memory apparently)-
In my minds eye I saw a tiny me, like ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ me, taking a machete to the over growth of foliage springing up over my chest, rooted into my heart. It was lush and green and thick- in need of pruning so that my heart could still be accessible. Once I got to my heart I opened a hatch perched on top and descended into the chambers (don’t worry, my imagination left the reality of a heart out, so there was no blood, though there was a lovely Himalayan Salt Lamp hue to the place). Once I reached the bottom of the stairs I saw boxes upon boxes of old memories, the stuffed away pain and hurts of my past, the words spoken over me, the anger I repressed, the fears I allowed to make their home in my heart and move in their belongings… all of it ‘stored’ deep inside my ‘inner-most-being’. Needless to say I immediately started to chuck the boxes out the hatch door. When I was done with the larger items all that was left was a small shoe box. Upon taking off the lid I saw photos from my past, my present and my future. People I loved, love, will love. Moments I remember as clear as day, dreams I have dreamt and hopes of what is yet to come. I began to hang the photographs on the walls of my heart, allowing love to take up space and make its home there.
I felt a tinge of guilt for throwing out the other boxes, what if I need something I buried at the bottom of one of them? The moment that thought crossed my mind I heard Holy Spirit say, those things are in the past, the old is gone, the new has come. You can choose to forgive, choose to let go, choose to heal, and choose to love. For love heals, love redeems, love casts out fear.
This, of course, reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which in the TPT (The Passion Translation) says-
“Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.”
Love never gives up, the start of verse 8 actually says “love never stops loving”, in another translation it says, “love never fails” which is almost too much for my brain to comprehend, thank heavens my soul understands… Love is joyful, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it is a shelter?! Man oh man! How good is that? How would the world change if we choose to live from a place of real, deep, meaningful, L-O-V-E-LOVE!? What could we accomplish? How would your community benefit? Your household? Your heart and soul?
Try this. Close your eyes… well ok… read the directions and THEN close your eyes-
Take a comfortable seat, place your hands over your heart- right hand on your chest, left hand over your right. Take a deep breath in.
Breath in, saying with your heart, mind and soul- I love myself the way God* loves me
Exhale- I love others the way God loves them
Repeat 5-10x working up to 5-10 minutes.
This is known as breath meditation. You breath in one mantra and out another. You could breath in- I am known, loved, and accepted and breath out- who I am is enough. You could breath in- Today I choose Love and exhale- for myself and others. It doesn’t need to be complicated or contrived, I often find the simpler the better. Try practicing this form of meditation for a couple of minutes each morning and see how it shapes your day, I would ‘love’ to hear how it impacts the way you think and feel.
Choose love my dear friends. It is vulnerable and scary, but as we learned earlier- Love casts out fear.