I had nearly 800 blog posts sitting in my google reader to catch up on when I got back and somewhere in the middle of them was a gem of a thought: In the Bible, love is described by actions rather than feelings.
I've never been the most original person in the world, so I've always been happy to find someone elses idea and flow with it. This is one time I'm sure I won't regret it. Loving someone, and performing all the less self actions necessary to show that love, is worth it.
My niece created a power point project for school and each slide showed a person in her life or an interest she enjoyed. Slides for her mom included details like where she worked and some other tidbit I can't remember. Slides for her dad included where he worked and some other detail. My slide? It was blank. The slide for the dog she doesn't have? Includes details about how great dogs are.
I gave her no end of harassment that she would be able to come up with more information concerning a dog she doesn't actually have than she could come up with about me. Yet today as it came to mind again a single thought stuck with me: "What would I want her to say about me?"
And then, as I thought about the greatest thing I love about God I realized I would want her to have as her one thought when she had to describe me:
"My Aunt Net loves me."
One of the reasons I love God so much today is because of how He treated me when I walked away from Him. How He loved me and relentlessly pursued my return and my surrender. I know I'm going to mess up and be a perfectly moronic idiot more times than I can count in my life - but I also know that through it all He will love me.
I don't have to worry that His affections will wander, that my sins and foolishness will one day be the final straw that makes Him give up on me. I know He loves me, and will love me, regardless of how I fail. And because of that, I will try harder not to fail, to not be that perfectly moronic idiot whose sins and foolishness might drive someone away.
And that's a gift. A gift I don't take lightly anymore. A gift that I can realize and understand better than I did 5 years ago... better than I did even 1 year ago.
But to give that kind of a gift to someone else I have to not just sit around feeling good feelings towards people. I have to actually act it out. Every day. Every time. I need to act patiently, kindly, not be boastful about myself, not be prideful, not seek my own satisfaction or needs first. I cannot be easily provoked, or think evil about others, I can't be happy about someone elses sin, and I have to rejoice in the truth.
I must bear all things (this does not mean with a sigh and a glare to ones side).
I must believe all things (this does not mean say I believe them while I think negative thoughts).
I must hope all things (this does not mean saying that I hope in order to cheer others, while I have lost hope myself).
I must endure all things (this does not mean surviving bad things while I throw pity parties and whine and moan).
In other words, I need to act as gracious as a any dog you'll ever meet. They fulfill 1 Corinthians 13 perfectly.
It's not an easy thing to do, and I need to get a lot better at it as anyone of my family or friends could probably tell you. But it's the greatest gift God has given me (outside of salvation) just to be loved and to be able to count on that love.
So for all the gifts that I wish I could give my niece, my nephew, my brother and his wife, to my friends and family, to you, it's simply this:
Aunt Net loves you.