double hearts with sure do love you banner

These are troubled, stressful times in our country. I have begun to dread checking my news feed and wonder if I really do want to know the latest news. As an educator, I have a visceral reaction to the news of yet another school shooting. Like most teachers, each year my students became mine and took residence in my heart, where I worried about their well-being as well as their learning. I cannot fathom what those teachers in Parkland, Fla. are experiencing.

I’ve intended to write a series of posts about love this month but haven’t followed through. In the one post I did write, I questioned equating love with candy and cupid’s arrows. (Disclaimer: I enjoy candy and giving little treat holders filled with candy every February.) But what does it really mean to say we “sure do love you” to someone?

The Verse of the Day on Valentine’s Day from my mobile Bible app clarified the issue for me. It reminded me that  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Galatians 5:14. The verse refers back to Jesus’ command. In the book of Luke, Jesus distills all the law into one command, charging us to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He further clarified who He meant by the word neighbor by telling the parable of a man who stopped to give aid to someone he might have considered his enemy, implying that even our enemies are our neighbors.

This love is not a hearts and flowers kind, obviously, and one might ask what He meant about loving people as we love ourselves. I admit this command puzzled me for years until I read C.S. Lewis’ explanation in his book Mere Christianity. He points out how he is more than willing to give himself the benefit of the doubt, as are most of us. This love is a choice, a commitment that brings people together rather than divides them. What if all our actions sprang from the desire to love other people this way? A tall order, isn’t it? I would never say that I always live this way. That’s why I need forgiveness and God’s loving guidance.  I do think, however, that God loves even the troubled young man who shot those students and teachers and asks us, through His power, to do the same. What that looks like is complicated, but I believe that all of us must take some responsibility for making every effort to love on the most troubled and unlovely kids as they grow up so that they might not make the choice to act out their anger in violence.

Thanks for allowing me to work through the grief and frustration that has been boiling in me the last few days. I promise that tomorrow will bring a light-hearted post about a cute spring project that I’ve been working on.

Have a great day!