Today during church service, the pastor introduced us to a new series- 40 Days of Love. To correspond with the message the church issued out each family a book entitled "The Relationship Principles of Jesus" which has a lesson for us to read throughout the next 40 days and then we are to discuss the teachings with a small group (my church's form of a Bible Study.)
Well, Sunday small group times don't fit in with my kid's nap schedules and it is a lot of driving and gas to try to get there any other day of the week...so hello, small group :)
Today's introductory chapter asked us to focus on the point that relationships are the most important thing in the world. Not stuff. Not status. Our greatest purpose in life is to love God and to love other people. (Mark 12: 29-31)
I have to say honestly here, because I am just starting this devotional and talking to cyber-space, but I did not think that I would be very moved by this series when it was first presented. Why? Because I am already a "Golden Rule Girl." I feel like I am a genuinely nice person--friendly to everyone, even when I don't want to be. And I am highly considerate of other people's feelings, at times feeling overly-empathetic. Almost like if I made myself be any nicer, I would turn into a doormat.
Then I read the first sentence of the introduction to this stinkin' book... "If I asked you what your number 1 goal is in life, what would be your answer?" Our pastor asked us this question this morning too, but I didn't know my answer. Tonight I thought about it a little longer. What I want more than anything else--as trivial as it sounds-- is acceptance. Acceptance from everyone. I want strangers to like me. I want my kids to like me, even in their teenage years (shooting for the moon on that one.) I want my husband to like me, even when I wake up in the morning and my breath smells and I have a dried spit puddle on the sheets. I want my friends to like me so much that I never have to worry about how my social calendar will stack up. I want my Facebook "friends" to like me so much that I never have a single status update go un-commented or un-liked. (lol) I could go on and on here, but you get the jist...
Wanting people to like me so much means that I am doing every nice thing in my power to earn their acceptance. I am friendly, because I want those friendly feelings returned. This might not be all that terrible in and of itself. But it's still not right.
At the end of each chapter there is a "question to consider." Today's is "Have I asked Jesus if I'm doing what's most important?" As soon as I read that, I knew that Jesus would tell me 'no.' Being nice and friendly to people is one thing; loving them is quite another. (I do want to put in a side note here to say that I do deeply and madly love my children and my husband and I am so wonderfully grateful and full of love for my friends.) However, I have come to the revelation today that if I am doing any nice thing for any other reason than doing it out of love, then I am getting it all backward. I must act on love first for the sake of love--then any extra happy inkling I get out of it is a fortunate side effect.
So there's my Day 1. The journey begins. And I am very much hoping I get as much out of it for the next 39 as I did today.