what does love look like?

March 27, 2014

Sooner or later a story is going to get to you. I don’t care where you hear it. You can’t predict where you might but one will get a hold of you, at an open-hearted moment. It’ll be like there’s an actual ear right there on your heart and you can put your pointer finger behind that ear and bend it close to the teller. And right then, just like that, you’ll get it. That thing, that you’ve never been able to understand, to feel, before.

We hide from the chance of this softening because maybe it will hurt too much, the pain that comes with changes of heart. Openly listening removes the ruminating mind, and then what? Our hearts get all bruised up with the hurt of the world around us and in our homes and in people who we have taken part in hurting, and then we’re moved to help or grow. It seems too hard.

There are all kinds of well thought out responses being typed out because of the backlash that World Vision is receiving for changing an employment policy. They have decided that excluding someone who wants to work for them, to help, because they’re gay is no longer the route they want to take. There are many people who believe that a Christian organization cannot have gay people working under its umbrella. There are many people who believe that World Vision can most certainly be a Christian organization with gay employees and also continue feeding the poor.

There is arguing.

EDIT: World Vision has changed their decision due to the backlash. Please read Kristen Howerton’s post about this. The words she included from Benjamin Moberg should be read by everyone.

My heart’s ear perked up when I saw this:


Oh Tara, yes. Less Talking, More Doing. Less arguing. More Dirty Paws. This Facebook status begs a question of my heart, drawing my ear to bend, and I realize it should not be so hard.

What does love look like? 


The other day the Jehovah’s Witnesses came knocking.

A part of me wanted to be short and not-that-sweet with them. I wanted to open the door and sigh and drum my fingers on my leg and sigh some more while they talked about John 3:16 and if I knew what that means to me. I wanted to stare vacantly at them and then put up my hand, waving it back and forth, No, you can keep that. I wanted to push the brochure back at them. But I got distracted because the little old lady’s name is Pearl and her grown granddaughter, probably about age fifty, kept accidentally calling her mom. Oh I’m sorry, my Grandma…sheesh, what’s up with me today? 

She seemed nervous. And Pearl was standing there with her back curved and her glasses at the end of her nose and she was moving her fingertips along the tops of the pages of her bible. She kept peeking up over the top of her glasses, at The Book in her arms and it looked so big and heavy.

I wanted to know their stories. No, not their Jehovah’s Witness stories, but what do they like? Ice cream? Where have they lived? Did they have a lot of babies? Did they lose any? What was their first love like? Did they ever have a pen pal? Who doesn’t want a pen pal named Pearl?

So something in my heart softened, looking at them like this. I just stood there, and I nodded and smiled and thanked them for stopping by and I shut the door.

So, they’ll be back.

I suppose I accidentally loved them. Or showed them more grace than most people do to door-knockers they don’t agree with. They caught me at the right moment or something. And I suppose we could have talked more Religion, but we didn’t. If they come back, maybe I’ll be direct, but I don’t have to be unloving, do I? I don’t have to concern myself with what they believe, even if they are concerning themselves with what I believe.

I’m cool with what I believe. I love what I believe. Feeling defensive of it doesn’t serve much of a purpose at all.

These days, on the Interwebs, when we debate issues, we are only talking to ourselves, for the most part. We are talking to others who already think like we do and then they cheer us on. Go team. We are talking to ourselves and a much smaller number of those that disagree with us. We are not changing their minds though. They are only there because they were surfing the web looking for fights.

What does love look like? 

When we had Miles and Asher and no Elsie yet, we didn’t really know if we would have three kids or not. It depended on what we were thinking and feeling and how much sleep we were getting. Sometimes it sounded CRAZY to think of MORE and sometimes we felt at ease and peaceful, when thinking of three. I knew my heart’s ear was hearing YES YES YES, if I was open to that, but mostly I would over-think it, weighing pros and cons and hesitating. Obviously, in the end, Elsie Jane came along. But when we had questioned that decision all those times, something a dear friend said to her husband would come to mind: We might regret not having another in the future, if we don’t. But we would never regret having another, if we do. 

This is not exactly the same kind of thing as deciding what you think about World Vision, gay marriage or Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, of course. But I wonder–will we believers who are looked at as “The Christian Left”–the liberals bending the truth–regret not concerning ourselves with the sexuality of a person or the religion of a person or the stance an organization is taking on such things?

Am I afraid I will stand before God and have to answer for this right before being punished, as many Christians believe I will?

I don’t think so. I can’t figure out, for all the trying, why God would set me in this place to discuss homosexuality endlessly and forever until everyone just stops and becomes heterosexual already. And I don’t t think He put me here to argue with Pearl, the Jehovah’s Witness at the door who may or may not have had a pen pal. But I am sure He wants me to be kind and open and to hear every person’s story and just be with them so they can see how He is there loving them, always.

I don’t care if you are gay, straight, overly hairy or purple. I don’t care if you’ve had an abortion or if you’ve slept with 398 people. This is not my concern. I will not regret not being concerned about this. I will not regret loving you. Concerning myself with all of those things is unloving because we cannot possibly over-think such things without judgment. It’s just impossible.

But. I am certain I will regret not loving you as you are. I will regret not allowing you in. I will regret spending too much time considering what you do versus what I do and what I don’t do versus what you don’t do and even what the Bible says about all of it. I would regret that, yes. Because I’d be thinking about all of that and talking about all of that and then I would have no time for getting my paws dirty.

The arguments use the Bible a lot. I love the Bible, actually and I do my best to live its love. There are many things in that confuse me and I will not stand on what I’ve decided about those things and throw words around about them. When those words are thrown to me or to those like me with a “it’s plain and clear and right there in black and white” my heart has always said what I heard Anne Lamott say recently to such arguments, Yeah, would you look at that. Isn’t that something? I don’t know.

Less jaws. More paws.





Leigh Kramer March 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Right there with you. The past few weeks my recurring thought has been this: I will never regret erring on the side of hope and love.
Leigh Kramer recently posted.."Which Is Infinite, Which Is Yes"

Kate Hopper March 27, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Amen, sister. Beautiful post and wise words, as always.
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Chrissy March 27, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I am so in love with these words. Thank you. You are so lovely. XO

Kristin Shaw March 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm

I love that you are actively looking for ways to help others LOVE. Just love.
Kristin Shaw recently posted..Where I Lived Wednesday: Glendora Avenue

Kelly V March 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

I love this post, Heather. Just beautiful!

anna whiston-donaldson March 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Beautiful, Heather. And I need to choose to LOVE more than I do. I know I won’t regret it. You are so right about the 3rd child thing. We hemmed and hawed for A DECADE. I have always regretted not doing it.
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Tara@imightneedanap.com March 28, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Yes. This. I loved my Jehovah’s Witness folks too. Very kind and so compassionate when they found me home crying over my Daddy’s recent passing. Why I answered the door I don’t know, but I’m glad I did. We shared love with each other over differences in all kinds of ways, but love. That was the thing. They eventually stopped coming, and that made me sad. Thank you for this.

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