The Hard & The Holy

“Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.”
– Ann Voskamp

Well–I love this quote.

Life right now is full of lessons (nothing out of the ordinary there, I suppose), but they all seem to be centered around the idea and–more challenging–the act of sacrifice.

It’s not particularly fun, but it’s the uphill climb to get to the summit. And I know my sacrifices are small in comparison to much of the world, but it’s still my journey uniquely, and right now I’m tired because it’s hard.

I try to remind myself as I make final preparations to leave one life season and style for another, that once I’m there, I’ll be able to appreciate and value it that much more–knowing the cost it took to get there.

Because I want to be a woman who knows more than how to do my hair.

So I’m embracing the sacrifice and discovering the increasing springs of strength to grow in my journey through the hard and holy things God has called me to do.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.”
-Psalm 84:5-7 ESV

Living Well

Love Well–Live Well

This is an area of life that requires so much intentionality (and I think I’m only barely scratching the surface on understanding!), so I wasn’t really planning on writing on it just yet. However, I’m choosing today to at least start the topic of loving well because I’ve been thinking over this quote a lot over the past couple days.

“Do small things with great love.”

I had a bout of motivation to start hanging decorations on the walls of my apartment this past weekend, so I wrote the quote out and framed it to hang above the kitchen sink. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time standing there thinking about the quote!

I should back up a bit though. In my life, loving well involves loving in two spheres: those I know and those I don’t know, and those both can look pretty different. In loving within my relationships, I have been learning that I am only able to love people from a place of wholeness.

“We love because He first loved us.”

The profoundness of that “simple” verse from 1 John 4:19 has eluded me for years. God loving us in a crazy, radical, sacrificial way–so much so that He came to us through the person of Jesus to bring us a full, whole life. To experience Christ’s love brought an unprecedented healing and wholeness to all those who accepted His love. And from that place of wholeness, they were able to see Jesus for who He was (and is) and love Him in return. But that place of wholeness also allowed for true love to everyone around them. When you are receiving love from Christ, you have the abundance to love unconditionally, without jealousy or unforgiveness or selfishness. You’re free to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Loving within my relationships means I,  first and foremost, need to be spiritually healthy and whole, and then I need to follow Jesus’ lead on how to care for, understand, champion, and support my friends and family.

For those I don’t know or at least don’t have deeper relationships with, loving has more to do with small things done in great love. It still comes from that same root source of God’s love and healing of my own heart, it’s just played out differently. I don’t get a free pass on loving people because I don’t have the relationship to be able to walk through all the intimate steps of life with someone. I have to choose to put extra effort into the small things, the small ways I am able to interact, and love greatly and deeply and sacrificially through those things.

This week has been exhausting for me, as we’re in the middle of several time-intensive and mentally draining projects at work and I have not been sleeping well lately. After 4 straight hours of meetings this afternoon while under a throbbing headache, all I wanted to do was come home to sleep it off after work. However, I had already made an appointment to visit a local refugee family to work on ESL with them. I would have loved to cancel, or at the very least, make the visit as quick as possible. But, thankfully, I’ve been looking at my newly framed quote all week and chose to do this one small thing with the greatest love I could. Prayers were involved, the visit went great, my headache even went away. Truly–glory to God.

Great love in the small things is a sacrifice, often unnoticed, maybe even unappreciated.  Loving from wholeness–selfless love–may not be returned. But I’m learning that in a very strange way, loving well has more to do with me and my heart than anyone else’s response to it. It’s an act of worship and a refining of my heart to become more like the One I love. Because He loves me.