I have had a secret blog post in the works for years. YEARS. If I have written it once, I have rewritten it a thousand times. I have a hundred different versions of this same post on my hard drive.
Each is on the same topic: identity. Who I hope to become as a person.
Sometimes I start the post out talking about where I’ve come. As one of my favorite songs, how I start out (even today), “depraved and enslaved”.
Sometimes I tell a cool story about something that I read or (more rarely) something cool that’s happened to me.
Sometimes I start off with a Bible verse and some rumination.
But inevitably I get to the hard part. Admitting I’m not where I want to be, and talking about where I want to go.
Unwaveringly, the things I want to describe me always remain the same. I want to be humble, generous, friendly, accepting, good natured, compassionate and Christ-like. I can hardly think of a way to write this without sounding prideful, arrogant and pompous. So, almost always, my posts end here. I just don’t know how to continue. I don’t know how to carry that out.
In a way, I don’t know how to get where I want to go.
Today a light kicked off.
I’ve been following the wrong list.
Because while pursuing Christ-liked-ness, good nature, humility, generosity… while pursuing all those things is not necessarily in anyway bad … neither is it ideal.
Because I’m pursuing the wrong things.
I ought to be pursuing love.
What’s love got to do with it!?
Glad you asked. Just to use generosity as an example, while I can pursue generosity and I might catch love as a side-effect … when I pursue love, I’m sure to get generosity along with it.
In other words, love drives every other good thing. While I might catch love by pursuing something else, odds are good I won’t. But if I pursue love, I am sure to get every other thing that goes with it. Generosity comes to the party alone … but love brings a dozen friends.
Something that really helped shape my thinking on this was a book I just finished reading called Love Does. The author Bob recounts many stories from his life where he did things. He did things simply because he loved. The entire premise of the book is summed up in the title. Love does stuff.
I think the moment where Bob almost lost me in this book was when he was telling the story about how he handled telling his young kids about September 11. He encouraged his kids to write letters to every world leader and promised if any wrote back, he would fly them out to meet the leader. His kids got numerous letters, and Bob (somewhat sarcastically) said he sold the family truck and made good on his promise.
I guess that’s the difference between him and me. I can’t afford to traipse around the world like he can. While I loved the book, I ended it feeling incredibly inadequate, because I don’t think I will ever have half the cool stories he does.
But I’m beginning to think I already have more stories. And my stories are better. Because they’re mine and you can’t take that away from me.
Sure, my stories don’t involve setting Ugandan children free from false imprisonment. My stories don’t involve world travels. My stories don’t involve sail boats, and young couples, and engagements.
My stories are better. My stories involve getting crazy excited over a lonely twelve-year-old boy’s birthday celebration. My stories involve regular lunches and amazing conversations with some awesome middle school kids a couple times a month. My stories involve hanging with my cousins on top of a mountain. My stories involve camp and having one of my campers balling his eyes out on my shoulder as we talk about how hard his life is. My stories involve sweat, and power-tools, and dust and hanging with a kid while he tried to figure out why his parents were splitting up and whether it was his fault. My stories involve staying up until 2am the night before Christmas eve talking a kid off the ledge when his girlfriend broke up with him and he thought his life was over. My stories involve ping pong, and fireworks, and burgers, and watermelons and cantaloupe and family.
My stories are crazy. My stories usually have something going wrong. My stories are mine written through blood, sweat and tears … and love.
Perry Noble a while back tweeted something that has haunted me, because I found it dripping with truth: “I cannot lead people effectively unless I love them deeply!”
I can be generous, to a point, without love. I can be compassionate, to a point, without love. I can do all things, to a point, without love.
But love changes it all. Without love, I’m calculating receipts, figuring out budgets, trying to make all the logistics work. With love, I’m generous to a fault.
With love, I act passionately, immediately, impulsively and impetuously.
Love changes the story.
So, my friends, if you have gotten this far, I don’t want you to know me as a generous person. A compassionate person. A friendly person. A person that I would have wanted you to know before.
I want what I do, how I act, and who I love to be clear. I want you to hear my name, and the natural, second, unconscious thought about me if you know me at all to be: “Oh, how he loves people.”
That’s who I want to be. And, dear friends, I ask that you call me out when that is not your natural reaction. This is not who I am, but who I am so desperate to become.