What COVID has taught me
A few years ago I was in a relationship with a person who, in my opinion, was difficult to love. I prayed repeatedly that God would allow me to love them as He did, but seemed to get nowhere. Finally, I asked God, “How would you have me love her/him?” Immediately the answer came: “without expectation.”
I realized that much of my frustration in this relationship was that the other was not acting as I thought they should. I had set standards for them to meet which were not mine to set. I was not called to improve them, I was called to love them. No more, no less.
Did this realization make the relationship easier/healthier/more fulfilling? Not really. What this insight did was significantly decrease my frustration, which in turn made me more accepting and patient—more able to respond to their needs without worrying about my own needs being met. In short, it made me more loving.
I’d love to say that the relationship blossomed into a close life long friendship, but that has not been the case. To preserve my own spiritual and mental health I have needed to set firm boundaries, but, rather than impede the friendship, these limits have freed me to be able to respond lovingly to this individual when the need arises.
All this is only background to what God is revealing to me about my relationship with Him. How many times am I dissatisfied with my life because it is not living up to my expectation of what it would be? Unconsciously, I think this sometimes leads me to resent the life God has given me, since it is not what I expected.
You see, I believe God loves me without expectations. Before anyone says we are called to righteousness before a Holy God, let me say I agree. But to make His love dependent on my righteousness is a lie that comes straight from my enemy. Even as we sing, “Just As I Am,” we put expectations on His response to us coming to Him. Yes, I am broken, but if You love me I will do better. We don’t really experience His radical love for us, just as we are. His invitation to righteousness is not to make us good enough to be loved by Him, but to lead us into the glorious life He has promised us. His love is without expectation.
|Visiting our women from a "safe" distance|
Now, we once again have “retooled” our ministry to meet the most pressing needs around us. I hadn’t planned this, and was/am not prepared for this.
Suddenly, without my asking, donations were coming in as I shared the great need for food for the poor who were suffering from the shut down of much of the country.
Really, God? Really? This isn’t in our mission statement. This isn’t what our ministry was started for. Really, You now want me to start giving away food? I have had no idea how to do this.
We started “small” and “safe,” giving out food to the elderly in collaboration with the social services of the town when our women’s house is located.
We partnered with the national police in our town, asking them to take food to those we knew needed it, even after curfew hours.
Our staff took food to the people in their home communities they knew to be in the most desperate need.
And, as I shared what we were doing, more donations came in. In the past two days, we have given out over 1000 lbs. of beans, rice, and a fortified hot drink to over 200 families from the doorway of my home.
I have ineptly tried to figure out how to get the food to those who need it—and God has brought so many people to the door of my home that we have had to have sign ups and assign hours to come to receive food. I am doing things I have never done and are beyond my capabilities.
In my heart of hearts, I found myself saying to God, “This isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t what I expected my life serving you to be like. This is too much.”