Love: A Costly Gift

Love- A Costly Gift

There once was a woman who was known around town as “the sinner”. I imagine that means she was a whore. Giving herself to any man in exchange for a buck or two. There were times, I wonder, if she wanted to do something else but didn’t because she’d been doing it for too long. It could be that over time she got comfortable with her title. Wore it like a badge of honor.

Sinner.

“That’s what I’ll always be.”

But then Jesus comes along. We aren’t told how the woman knows Jesus, but it’s clear she had been greatly impacted by Him. So much so, that when she heard Jesus was at Simon the Pharisees house (also a badge worn with honor) she went to Him. She was unhindered by social cues or even common courtesies, but had an undaunted desire to give lavishly to Him.

What does a sinner have to offer Jesus anyway?

First, she offered Him her tears. Those tears held the shame from all those years and all those mistakes. Tears that she had held in for so long in order to not feel were now falling freely in order to wash His feet. As they fell, they seemed to purify her as well. The toxins of her past no longer bottled up inside. In those tears was hope and joy because that is what she found in Jesus.

Her hair she used as a towel to dry His feet. This detail alone would have enraged those in attendance. Women were not allowed to have their hair down in front of anyone but their own husbands. Somehow in that moment she was not concerned about anyone’s eyes, but only those of Jesus. Her thoughts were focused on Him alone.

And as she thought about Him she kissed His feet. Those beautiful feet which brought such good news to her weary soul. How could she not kiss them?

Then, she took her jar of precious ointment and broke it. Not one drop of the contents would be saved, but all of it poured out on Jesus’ feet. The woman had taken her most costly possession and in an act of extreme adoration gave it up in worship to Jesus.

Amazing how when beautiful things are broken they can bring a sweet smelling fragrance of adoration and love.

As the woman showered Jesus with love, Simon thought to himself, “Hmphh, but she’s a sinner. Come on Jesus, you should know that.” He kept his disgust to himself as he watched her unapologetically love Jesus. Disgusted at the woman’s indecent behavior and Jesus for allowing it.

Poor, stupid Simon got caught up in his critical and judgmental thinking. Quickly pointing at someone else’s sins while forgetting he had his own.

But at least I’m not her.

Stings a bit to hear. To hear how similar Simon can sound and to know that I’m often swept up in my own pious thinking. I mean, come on, I invited Jesus over for dinner. Give me some credit.

When He came, because He’ll always come, I treated Him like a commoner. I say it’s because we’re just “that comfortable” with one another, but somehow dishonor veiled itself as familiarity. The intimate greetings we once exchanged have become the awkward side hugs between acquaintances or the cold distance between lovers sleeping back-to-back.

What was it that caused the woman to have such a zealous love? The fact that she knew she was loved and forgiven.

This is where my heart begins to ache, because I know it’s her realization of His love for her that causes her to act. Her expression of love was not meant to earn His love, but in response to His love. All the tears and all the kisses were in gratitude for what He had already given her. When you’ve seen a love like His you want to reciprocate and she did in the only way she knew how.

God, I want a love like that…again.

Not that I’ve ever lost His unconditional, unfading love, but I’ve forgotten how generous of a gift I had been given when I had been so undeserving. I, too, had been a whore freely giving myself to lesser loves. I had been the unclean woman. The sinner.

Then, there He was and in an instant His love did for me what I could have never done for myself: forgive. I need a renewed revelation of that love. To stop trying to earn it or work for it, but to catch a glimpse of it in such a way that it brings me back to my knees in awe. And in that moment not care about the tears, or the stares, but to be consumed by it allowing myself to cover Him in kisses and pour out my most costly worship at His feet.

My prayer for you is that you would catch a glimpse of the great love He has for you and that it would cause your heart to worship.

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Taking the higher road.

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Sometimes you have a choice to take the high road.

In my birthday post last week, I mentioned if I knew then what I know now that I’d “Forgive faster. Forgive even if you think the other person is wrong. Forgive even if the other person IS wrong. Trust me. Swallow your pride on this one.” Less than 24-hours later, I received a phone call that would make me prove it.

Seven years ago this week, my biological mother hung up on me. At that point, I hadn’t lived with her for 10 years and I had been trying my best to be a decent daughter and protect (my heart, my emotions) myself at the same time. Unfortunately, healthy boundaries are not my specialty.

After her usual verbal face slap, she hung up and I moved on.

Happily, I might add. I had been praying for years that I’d get some freedom from the guilt, shame and expectations that she continued to pile on my shoulders and I finally got it. I knew the silence would end at some point. I figured it would take some kind of crisis to have her call me, which is exactly what happened.

On my 30th birthday, I received the long dreaded phone call. Luckily for me, at the time, I had been out of the room so the call went to voicemail. An emotional landmine waiting for me on returning. The content of the message was brief and straight forward. After some birthday greetings, I was told I should call my grandmother who I had not talked to in that time, either.

I wish I could tell you my immediate reaction was full of forgiveness, love and grace.

It wasn’t.

Not even a little bit.

Spent some time talking to my parents about the phone call. Actually, they did most of the talking, since I didn’t have much more to say than “That pissed me off.” I was encouraged to pray about my response and consider taking the higher road in the matter. I didn’t like most of what they said, but because I know they love Jesus and they love me I figured I should at least consider their wisdom in the matter.

So, I prayed. Although, that sounds much more formal that anything I tend to do. My prayers very often start off like this, “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?!” After that, it’s followed by something awesome that happened. “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! A parking spot in the very FRONT!! Awesome! Thanks!” Mostly, though, its followed with my displeasure of a recent event, like “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! Only 3 lines open at Walmart the week before Christmas” or in this case “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! I need to forgive these people? These same people who hurt me time and time again?”

I’ve learned I don’t need to be long winded in my complaints. He gets the gist–I don’t like this.

But, He also knows my heart.

God knows that in the midst of this unexpected opening of old scars, that I’d want to be faithful to whatever it was He was asking of me. Somehow I feel compelled to at least TRY and give Him Lordship of my life. To at least TRY and obey His voice when I hear it. To at least attempt to forgive my enemies and not only forgive them but treat them better than they treated me.

So, I called my grandma.

I chose the higher road. Save the parade and hand clapping though. I’m not looking for that and don’t deserve it. All I did was make a step in the right direction. A very SMALL step. A step that tells Jesus, “I’m willing to do what you ask, even if it gets me hurt.” That’s a whole other blog post there, but its the place I had to get to in order to take the first step in this situation.

I know my life is an extreme example, but we are all faced with decisions everyday to take the higher road. Maybe its not giving the guy who cut you off the middle finger. Or not screaming at your kids when they do something you’ve told them NOT to for the millionth time today. It could be giving a smile to a frazzled looking woman in the toy section at Target.

You don’t need me to give you scenarios though. I think most of us recognize the moments day-to-day that could be opportunities to shine a little brighter. To give a little love, even when it hurts.

If I knew then, what I know now…

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I turn 30 this week. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten wiser. Although some days that’s questionable.

Here’s some things I’d tell a younger version of myself, if I had the chance:

Don’t be so selfish. Give of your time, money, skills and love to others. Those “deserving” and those, not so deserving. Those you like, and those you don’t.

Don’t ever regret loving. Sure, you’re gonna walk away with a broken heart some of the time, but its worth it. It’s always worth it to love.

Set more boundaries. Boundaries aren’t selfish, even though I still struggle with this idea. Boundaries help healthy relationships grow and protect us from unhealthy ones.

Don’t date him. Or him. Or him. Or him. Mom was right.

Stop being so insecure. You’re awesome. Sure, you’re not a size 2. You still get pimples. And you can be extremely awkward in social settings. It’s ok!

You’re not going to remember– write it down. This includes the trivial (like things you need at the grocery store) to the sentimental (like funny things dad says). I can’t tell you how many times you’ll walk away from a sermon at church and think “Wow! That was good.” and then forget everything that was said. Or the amount of times you’ll go to the store, only to come home with the one thing you needed most (like TP), but failed to because it didn’t get put on the list. Or the amount of times grandpa said something witty and later on thought “What was that silly saying Grandpa told me?”

Take more risks. Fear held me back from doing things I should have tried–even if to say, “I’m never doing that again!”

Being perfect is unattainable….so stop trying. And when you realize you can’t do something perfectly don’t beat yourself up over it.

Forgive faster. Forgive even if you think the other person is wrong. Forgive even if the other person IS wrong. Trust me. Swallow your pride on this one.

Grandma was right–make new friends, but keep the old. Though you may not text, or write, or call as often as they are on my mind– know when you do it will be like there hasn’t been any time or miles between you.

Jesus isn’t as hard on you, as you are on yourself. He’s more loving, more understanding, less judgmental and just more awesome than you could ever grasp, but try to grasp it anyway. Every time you ask Him for more of Himself, He’ll do it.

What are some things you’d tell yourself if you knew then what you know now?