This is my personal quest…loveliness. The dictionary has the standard gamut of definitions for this word, loveliness, but the one that is near to my heart, reads: “Of a great moral or spiritual beauty: a lovely character”.
This sounds simple, and a surface level of loveliness really is fairly simple, but this alone is not my pursuit.
My goal is to be the kind of woman who is selfless enough to respond lovingly to someone who has wronged me. To be the kind of woman who is humble enough to recognize that when people aren’t acting kindly toward me, it is most likely they who are hurting, and that it is far more lovely to respond according to that knowledge rather than out of self-protection.
It is important to me that I not make my decisions based on the actions or disappointments of others. I still need to be who I naturally would have been, regardless of what has been done to me. I, so very, passionately, strive for this trait in my life. I reject the option to live a life that is based on reaction. Who would that make me? If I react to everything that is thrown at me…where am I? Seriously, that means that I would have defined myself based on what others are saying and doing, and not proactively establishing myself! Wow, no thanks!
In Luke 6:32-33 Jesus says: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ’sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ’sinners’ do that.”
Well, wow! So, Jesus is calling us out here…basically, He’s saying: “Hey folks…being nice to your friends…whatever! Repaying kindness with kindness…easy-peasy.”
The passage goes on to say in verses 35-36: “But, love your enemies, do good to them…then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”
The part that stands out to me in bold is: “Because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”. If it is what HE does, then it needs to be what I strive toward.
Extending grace isn’t always easy, in fact, when it really counts (that is, when it’s not reciprocated), it is quite hard.
I often wonder if I’m any good at it at all, because, while I often make the hard choices, and do what is right even when it isn’t what I’d rather do…I feel like it pains me. I feel like a doormat sometimes. sigh. I wonder if that’s natural, and a part of it all? I feel like it breaks my spirit a lot of times.
But, in the end, I know that in pursuing loveliness, I’m ultimately pleasing God, and, possibly, allowing others to sense the love that God has for them. If I can put myself aside long enough to respond kindly in the face of acrimony, or even just simple apathy, — then, maybe then, they will see a little bit of Jesus in me and determine to take baby steps toward dealing with what is really causing the pain in their own hearts.
And, quite honestly, I already know what happens when I give what I get. If I repay nonsense with nonsense,…I’m not better (worse, in fact), and, they’re no better for it. Everyone suffers. ALL that this does is satisfy the selfish side of me that wants to set the record straight. It’s fleeting. Once it’s all said and done, nothing positive is accomplished.
So, that is my heartfelt pursuit. “Whatever is Lovely”, that’s what I want to be the measuring stick of my character. I, desperately, want the overflow of my heart to always pour from my mouth in a manner of loveliness. Lord let it be so.
(Originally written November 2009)