Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Love is Work

I feel it bubble up within me at the oddest times. Usually while I'm washing dishes, or making dinner, folding laundry or sweeping up. When my kids are all running around the backyard when they should be inside helping and I can see them laughing from the window. Always, always when I'm doing something for someone else.

"I am so in love with these people."

It's unbidden, this thought, and when it comes over me I hold onto the delicious way it makes me feel for a beat or two. Yes, I am. So in love. So grateful for every single one of them. Yes, when I'm scrubbing crusted pans at the sink. Yes, when I'm folding the fourth load of laundry today. Yes, when I'm sweeping up the cheerios beneath the high chair.

I think about it when another feeling comes over me. A less positive one. A more "can't I get 5 minutes to myself?" feeling. Those ones, they tend to show up when I'm trying to do something for me. The irritation of interruption is a joy-stealer for sure. The contrast of my activity and the feeling makes me realize:

It's a grace to serve. A blessing to be other-focused. These long days of hard work are a privilege and I'm gathering them up. It's the real life truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Even when your feet ache and you're wrung out with exhaustion, love is something that wraps around the moments where your focus is on something bigger than just you.

It's a truth I forget during selfish seasons, times when self pity moves in and contentment is shoved to the side. 

My three year old is approximately five handfuls at all times of the day. My baby is starting to walk. I'm schooling four kids and trying to keep Peter out of mud puddles (and doing the subsequent zillion loads of laundry), trying to keep food in the fridge for my ravenous almost-teenager, trying to have a little energy and good humor left at the end of the day for my man. I can easily get side tracked by the enormity of life and forget that this is what it is all about.

Being in love with my people, being love to my people, isn't a puffy pink heart. It's not when I'm all dolled up, or well rested. It isn't when everyone is behaving perfectly, or on our smooth and easy days.

It's about making the choice to be love, without contingency. That's where the flood of grace comes from. Not from picture perfect moments, but the times that require a little bit of compassion. A little bit of understanding and a whole lot of effort. There's a dirty grit to doing real life with real people. Love gets in there anyway.

I can't force it, but I know where to find it. Getting out of my own way, away from my expectations, my perfectionism check lists - and diving head first into the messy, exhausting, exhilarating work of love.

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