I am a doodler. I doodle whatever form of artsy thing I am studying at the time. I do it when people are talking, lecturing, or whatever. I do it if I am listening to a radio or taking notes for a class. To some people this might seem rude but it helps me focus. I am a bit ADHD and it helps to to keep from being distracted by environmental stimuli that sometimes make me zone out. If a guy walks by with a blue comb-over while your talking to me about Trump politics, the blue comb-over wins every time. So I mindlessly focus on my doodle with my ears open and take notes.
When my pastor teaches, I follow him in this way. I understand his rules of engagement. He greets us and talks about our lives and what is going on in his life as he prepares to teach to create a warm comfortable environment for us to learn in. I open my bible and follow whatever scripture he is teaching with notebook in hand ready to take notes. I know that he will tell me for example, ” there are three points I want you to know about….” I know when he starts numbering, I will have sub categories and points to remember, so I note and doodle and draw and focus on what I hear.
But then there is a point when there is a shift in his voice, he moves away from his notes and the teaching will change to preaching. At that moment, I put down my pencil and my head pops up and I make eye contact (because I know that he will), also because I know at this point, he will be saying what God put on his heart to tell us about the passage he just taught. He will sum it up. He will say to us in plain ole’ New Mexico English… how the cow ate the cabbage. The Umbrella instruction.
He’s done three things here that nurture relationship:
- He’s created an environment of love and acceptance to translate his message. The pastors, praise team and church members go to a lot of trouble to do this. It’s valuable.
- He’s given relevant information in order for me to understand the message in a way that is clear and repeatable.
- He’s concluded his message with a shift from rules to transaction, where it is time to engage and apply the Word.
I use this example because it is, to me, a picture of a healthy love umbrella: The creation of an environment of love to relay information to nurture or further a relationship.
Where Christ sets the bar, the rules of engagement under the umbrella of love become limited. Not just anything goes. Love itself is not a transaction but rather an environment in which to create relationships. The transactions themselves, the give and take, the if /then, the reciprocation of thoughts and feelings and the application of the message, whatever it may be is covered in an an environment that is safe and focused on love.
Here is what the Umbrella looks like:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Some of us need to work on our umbrella before engaging in relationship at all. It is absolutely the groundwork for whatever else you engage in your life. Parenting, marriage, friendship, business, recovery, healing, creativity and even quiet stillness of just being together are defined by it.
It’s hard work to learn to think like Christ.
It means tearing apart your current way of loving and living and deciding if it’s love at all.
It’s about calling yourself on the carpet and wiping the BS off your own chin.
It’s about getting the plank out of your own eye, accepting your responsibility in your relationship failures and working to make amends.
It is about forgiveness whether the other person deserves it or not, even when they are sure they did nothing wrong.
It’s about leaving your gift at the alter and making it right.
It’s about keeping your mouth shut when God is not filling it.
It’s about creating an environment to love in.
It’s about choosing to trust God to remove all the dirt, hate, muck, unforgiveness that is hard wired into us as a way to protect ourselves and allowing God to protect us. Its about getting up close and personal about things we cannot change or remove in our own power. It’s about stepping out, getting real and swallowing pride. It’s about choosing to be changed by a power greater than your own, by Grace.
I woke up this morning with this on my heart. Having to tear down and look at my responsibility as a Christian in my relationships has been a rough puppy for me this week. No excuses. Just calling a goose a goose. Boy, do I have some work to do.