I remembered walking past a family building a sandcastle--perhaps this one...the day before (Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do it justice--the "compound" is actually quite large).
It looks like an ordinary sculpture...and it is. Nothing fancy. But the part that fascinated me was the amount of shells placed on and around the creation. It had to take hours to create.
What really intrigued me, though, was how it remained untouched. In New Jersey, I'm not entirely sure someone wouldn't have come along and ruined it. But here, on Sanibel Island, others respected its right to be there.
And it occurred to me that people are not so different.
We build our fortresses, we collect beautiful adornments and we say, "Notice me--please!"
We all yearn to be appreciated, validated, and affirmed. But too often, bullies come along and destroy the beautiful creation we've worked so hard to achieve. It can be as simple as a word. Ugly. Stupid. Idiot.
Intentional love crushes the bullies. Intentional love says, You matter. You're important. I see what you've done. I see who you are. I think you're wonderful.
Intentional love makes sure a person knows they matter.
It says, You have worth and value that is not attached to your merits, but stands on its own simply because you are you. And there is no other you anywhere.
Galatians 5:22 lists the fruits of the spirit, love being the first. My pastor says that love is mentioned first because it's the "standard fruit--the umbrella under which all the other fruits come."
Without love, we are just noise (I Cor 13:1). If we try to exhibit any other fruit without love, we'll grow weary and people will see through the facade.
God noticed me. He validated and affirmed me by giving me the gift of His Son (John 3:16). Jesus became the sacrificial lamb necessary for the atonement of my sins.
So, I must make a deliberate decision to love others. It's simple, but not always easy. And I can't do it on my own.
Sometimes I fail, but...
Love never fails (I Cor 13:8).
Sometimes I'd rather not, but...
Love is the most excellent way (I Cor 13:1).
Sometimes I let pride, self-pity, envy, and other sins keep me from validating and affirming others, but...
Let love and faithfulness never leave you (Prov 3:3).
Sometimes I want to call someone out on their wrongdoing, but...
Love covers over all wrongs (Prov 10:12)
Sometimes I'm just too tired to do good. To show the love of Christ. Sometimes I don't feel like validating another person, because I want to be shown appreciation, but...
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35).
Intentionally loving others is hard work! We need to notice the sandcastles among us. We need to lay down our agendas and be open to the Spirit's leading.
Intentional love requires sacrifice.
Intentional love is what God demonstrated to me.
Now it's my turn.
What about you?
Are you willing to notice someone's sandcastle today?
Are you willing to make someone else matter more than yourself today?
Love is the most excellent way.
Blessings Along the Path,
sharing this post with some of these lovelies