Spiritual Side Diane Meehl

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Fair warning if you’ve been thinking about visiting my church (and I hope you do) A certain beloved pastor will welcome you with a wide smile, then take you right out of your comfort zone. Maybe even out of your pew. Radical!

A few Sundays ago, this good pastor asked us to contemplate the real root of all that ails us humans. It’s very often a lack of love, isn’t it?

Feeling unloved, disconnected, or without value can make a vulnerable person easily angry, embittered, or even hostile. Just suppose, he asked, you were at the gas station and saw a customer become agitated with something or someone.

What if instead of looking away, we got out of our car, walked over, looked him right in the eye and simply said, “I love you.”

Crazy, right? To prove his point, our pastor asked us to turn toward someone we didn’t come to church with, and say to them, I love you. I know! It was a little awkward. Would you have felt a little sheepish? I think many of us did. But it was also awesome. We giggled.

Afterward, of my good friends sitting in the next pew over caught my eye and mouthed, I love you! That was a sweet moment. I knew she did — but what a beautiful reminder! And the meter on my own “love tank” spiked. I wanted more — and I wanted to give more!

Do you remember new love? When you couldn’t get enough of the other person — couldn’t sleep at night or bear to be apart? Remember falling so deeply, irrationally in love with your newborn, knowing your heart would forever walk outside of you?

Remember how your mother looked at you on stage when you were 7, playing the role of Cyndi Lou Who — her smile breaking her face and tears brimming? That’s how I imagine God loves us. With abandon, with joy — a sweet heartache.

And on whom does God rely to share his love? You. And me. How else will others get to know Him and experience that awe-inspiring, life affirming love?

We were challenged to do just that — to go out into the world and make intentional efforts to say, “I Love you” to those in our midst — loved ones and strangers alike.

For me, it is so very easy to say those words to my kids. And I don’t say it nearly enough to my husband. I think the reason it’s so hard to give love freely is because it makes us feel vulnerable, it’s a little risky to love.

But it’s always in our weakness that we gain strength. How much stronger does it make you feel to break a barrier with a spouse and tell them you love them — in the middle of a fight? Or show mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it?

Yes, God’s love is radical. Tap into your rebellious side, and give that love away. Say I love you to someone you’ve never told before. Say it to yourself in the mirror.

And just maybe, fill up another person’s love tank at the gas station. That’ll add some high-octane energy to the rest of your day!

• Diane Meehl is a professional writer, a mother of three and committed “people person.” She lives with her family in Ahwatukee Foothills and they worship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Share your story, or your feedback, with her at dianemeehl@gmail.com.

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