{the outloving pact}

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21 valentines with this guy!
i am so glad he chose me and that we get to do life together.
but let me be real..
yesterday was my birthday {which was actually monday now, since i wrote this tuesday}
and i had expectations.
which meant i ended up with some hurt feelings.
dumb, i know. how long have we been doing this thing?
haven’t we learned anything by now about our polar opposite
approaches to birthdays and christmas and parties and celebrating
and spending money??
why do we seem to forget this stuff?

and why, in moments of hurt does every loving thing i ever said or felt
about this man just seem to go straight out the window?
why can’t i believe the best? let go easily?
not have to make it all a great, big hairy deal!!

i want to love well.
i used to think i did.
lately, like the past few years lately..
God has been opening my eyes up big time to the hypocrisy in my heart.

sure, i love well. when i am loved well in return.
who doesn’t?
that kind of love is easy.
but love through pain or disappointment?
i can hope and endure all things..
as long as all things are going my way!!!

and right now i’m just talking about some stupid expectations over a birthday.
but we all have marks upon our lives. upon our marriages.
that have come from much bigger things than birthdays.
and whether big or small, when we’re hurt the natural response is to pull away.
to have an attitude of, “i’ll show you.”
but in the end. show you what?
show you how childish i can be? how immature?
that i can go longer than you without talking?
that i can be mean? selfish?
pulling back and shutting down gets us nowhere.
it only hurts us in the end.
but it’s hard when that’s how we FEEL!
and i’m a big feelings girl. i’ve got em all.

but God’s been breaking this down for me in the last few years
and showing me a thing or two about love and feelings and how no,
they’re not exactly the same thing!

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everyone says, “love is a choice.”
this is true.
but as a child of God He goes even further –
it’s a command.
we don’t get to decide if someone is worthy of our love.
we don’t get to decide if, when, how we will show love.
we are simply, to love!

why? because that person deserves it?
because we’re a doormat?
because love means letting people get away with whatever they want?
absolutely not.

shayne and i talked about my birthday and my feelings about it all..
over our valentines lunch the next day.
because what better conversation to have on valentines day than,
“hey babe.. you screwed up!” ha!
not really.
but also, we have the kind of relationship that doesn’t like anything between us.
we do talk things out.
we try to see from the other’s perspective.
we don’t always do a good job of this.
sometimes it gets pretty messy.
kind of animated and dramatic {that’s me, not him}.
we’re still learning to deal with conflict in a healthy non-divisive way with one another.
but through it all… even during the conflict that sometimes,
sometimes can take days before we fully get sorted out.
and then there’s the whole warming back up thing. {am i right?}

.. but even in the yuck parts, i still must love.
not in the habitual, we say it so much it’s lost it’s meaning, “i love you,” kind of way.
but in the, “love is patient. love is kind. is not easily angered. doesn’t seek it’s own,
Bible truth, child of God kind of way!!!!”
i don’t know about you.
maybe that kind of love comes naturally to you.
for me, it doesn’t.
especially when there’s been hurt. and during conflict.
but this is what sets Christ-like love apart from any other..
that when we were most undeserving, He loved us.
not when we had performed well. done our best.
no. at our lowest.

this is His kind of love and if we belong to Him it’s supposed to be our kind of love too.

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it’s what the scriptures say – how the world can tell us apart.
i always find that fascinating that there could be a whole slew
of things listed for people to say,
“yep. christian.”
but instead it says rather simply, “this is how everyone will know you’re mine,
by your love for each other!”

and what better place to practice and see this than in our marriage!

at one point this past summer God seemed to really light up 1 John to me,
where it talks about if you hate someone, you don’t/ can’t belong to Him.
when i’m harboring bitterness?
when i don’t forgive?
when i don’t let go?
when i don’t stop judging what they need to be doing,
and start examining my own heart?
any level of hate towards someone else indicates that the Father is not in me?
crazy, sobering thought!!

because when the love of God is IN us.. it’s what comes OUT of us!

there’s no stopping it.
when we truly realize what He’s done for us.
we want to take that same grace, that same mercy, and love and give it out to others.
and if we truly grasp this truth –
it doesn’t just apply to those we think are worthy.
but especially those we think are not!
the ones less “worthy” in my eyes, for whatever reason.
that i feel i have the right to stand back from. love everyone but them.
say it’s not “healthy” for me.

oh, don’t get me wrong. there’s people we need to keep distance from –
though probably not the ones we tend to think.
{look at Jesus’ social crowd.. i’m sure it wouldn’t pass most church goers approval list.}
but, yes. i have friends that have had to get out of their marriage because it wasn’t safe.
friends that have been abused by spouses. parents. pastors.
those you should be able to trust most.
and in no way, shape, or form does forgiving your offender and showing love to them
mean you have to go take them to lunch.
with some people it is best to love from afar. we all get that.

but i’m talking about the epidemic in christian circles that excuses hateful,
nothing-to-do-with-Christ-at-all behavior, all in the name of “healthy boundaries.”
do you know what i’m talking about?
beth moore, when i saw her in toronto last year, said,
“we as Chrisitans have “healthy boundardried” our way right into
direct opposition as Jesus teaches us to live.” {roof off. walls down}

and since love is empowered by our actions,
how we love will look different to different people.
that’s okay. that’s a good thing.
how boring if we all loved in the same way, as my husband and i keep rediscovering! ha.
but there IS a universal list that is written out for us in God’s Word.
{first corinthians 13}
and reading through that shuts up any spiritual sounding mumbo jumbo in a hurry.
all excuses fall flat and finger pointing turns around fast.
it always comes back to us.
what’s in our heart is revealed by how we treat those around us!! {ouch!}
am i keeping no record of wrong? am i rejoicing in truth?

more often than not, i don’t love that way.
and if i’ve been hurt, i don’t WANT to love that way!
my love is so conditional.
it depends on the other person.
how they’re treating me.

i remember once when shayne and i had a fight and i was so upset.
i felt so right in my cause. so justified.
and then God said, “what if he never changes in this area?”

come again, God?

and i’ll never forget His response to my heart,
“amber, what i require for you doesn’t change, even if the other person never does!”

i really had nothing to that.
except a whiney, childish, “man, that’s so unfair!”

but whether to my spouse. my kids. my community of friends.
those in my church. those different from me in society.
those who’ve hurt me. and yes, most especially those..
if the love of God is not the filter for my behavior to them,
then as His Word says, i’m nothing but a lot of noise!

and if i’m going to be heard.
let it be for what promotes His kingdom.
and if you’re unsure at times what exactly that is,
He set it up Himself when He said,
“these are greatest of all the commandments –
love God. love others.
not suggestions. commands.


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there’s already a group throwing their hands up, like, hold on a minute..
we can’t excuse sin.
nope. we sure can’t.
but first, let’s flip the microscope inward. to our own hearts.
and if we’re going to err – wouldn’t you rather err on the side of love vs. judgment.
i know i sure would!

i don’t think i’ve said anything different today that you haven’t already heard before..
and i feel like a broken record here on my blog most of the time anyway.
the subject of love is the most popular one to talk about these days, it seems.
and if you disagree with anyone, you’re not loving.
or try to have discernment, you’re judging. blah blah blah..
and it goes round and round until it gets so exhausting!!! anyone?
seriously. we’re going to sit around discussing for hours whether
or not we should welcome refugees when we could just go find some
and love them in Jesus name!!! {amen!}
we waste so much time TALKING about what Christians should do
and so little time actually DOING!

and here i’m veering away from marriage a bit,
but it all intersects!
because this is where it really comes home for me..

see, i can easily want to love on the refugee family who’s lost everything.
or want to join the crusade against strip clubs because i feel such
compassion for the women inside.
my heart feels stirred for the lgbt community, and i think alot about what
it looks like 
to hold true to my beliefs and yet still communicate acceptance
and value to my friends there.
and if i even hear a story, or think about all the girls being victimized through
sex trafficking i’m completely undone and ready to 
find every single one and just
make her soup, and hug her, and love on her for weeks!

but ask me to love that one who’s hurt me?
that friend. or husband. or parent?
oh, no! that’s asking too much!
my pride immediately takes over and tells me every reason
i’m excused from loving them.
they don’t deserve it.
that i have to protect myself from further hurt.
and yet, this is the real test. right here.
this closest circle right around me.
it’s easy to live Christ to those far away.
being a “good Christian” is always easier from a distance.
it’s prettier. more sparkly.
but to get up close?
to those who’ve hurt me?
to those who’ll probably hurt me again?
that’s where love gets messy.
but that’s where love is needed most.
not where others always see.
where i get recognition and dozens of “likes.”
but just those quiet obediences that God is asking of me?

and if you’re like me. back in the summer when i first started really
seeing this stuff i was like, “man.. no way i can love like that!
i just don’t have it in me.”
but it’s not about WHAT’S in us, but WHO!
and when we feel we can’t.
or the hurt has been too much.
we say, “God, help me!” and do it anyway!!

after our tiff the other day shayne and i made a pact with each other.
what if we were to try to out love one another for, oh, let’s say the next 30 days?
i kind of rolled my eyes at it, at first. it’s a bit corny.
out love each other? okay, then.

but… seriously though. what if?

what if we all purposed that?
to out love one another in our marriages. in our homes..
in our churches and neighborhoods and on social media?
how would things change?
how would our world look different?

love shot