I've always disliked decisions. Every day seems to hold a million or so, and I struggle with most of them, so anything that might help with that process—well, bring it on.
I was praying through several yesterday afternoon and stumbled across a question that clarified them all: “What does love look like here?”
I remembered a prof sharing several years ago the freedom he'd found in realizing that though he could never quite manage to stay on top of his do-list and empty his email inbox, he could choose to live each moment in love.
Love: it's the one thing God asks of us. “’Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27; c.f. John 13:34-35; 15:1-17)
- Do I try to get out of the baby dedication I’d committed to attending before I discovered that one of the classes for the mentoring course I just signed up for is on that morning? What does love look like here? The answer might be different for different people, but I know what love looks like for me, and I all of a sudden see that my desire to attend that particular mentoring session is less about love than about a greedy hunger to learn all I can and a hyper-responsibility that never lets me miss a session and a fear that if I miss that session near the beginning of the course I’ll never feel part of the group.
- Is this a time to sit in silence with God or to reach out and meet practical needs? What does love look like here? I watch Love embodied and see that sometimes love looks like retreating to give our Father our undivided attention, and sometimes it looks like delaying those plans for solitude for a day to meet the needs of a sick and hungry crowd (Matt 14:13-14, 22-23). It always looks like listening and trusting the Father to lead us into what love looks like for Him living His life out in us in this moment (John 5:19-20; 12:49-50; 14:10-21; 15:4, 9-10).
- Should I go to that evening event I’ve been invited to? What does love look like here? For me, this time, love looks like saying no. I can better love God and neighbor and this self that He loves by recognizing that this introvert isn’t made for parties and seldom sleeps much afterwards and another night of lost sleep right now would neither be loving God well (by honoring the way he has created me and living within my limitations) nor loving neighbor well (it’s hard to have much to give to my housemate and others to whom I’m called when I’m sick and cranky from being overtired).
- Should I send that follow-up email or not? How should I word it? What does love look like here?
- Should I say something to her or not? What does love look like here?
Where there doesn't seem to be an answer to the question, the decision is probably neutral. Many times we're free to choose. But I'm being surprised by the breadth of decisions into this question gives insight.
I'm also surprised by how much freedom it gives. If you’d asked me before I tried it, I might have feared that such a question would feel like another heavy burden, another thing for me to fall short of, rather than freedom. It doesn’t. As I'm prayerfully asking this question, willing to act on the answer, many of my previously unseen motives that have been clouding the issue become obvious and the decisions clear, and grace is given to move ahead.
Praying about decisions this way is quieting my heart as I discover once more that the call to love always comes in the context of the call to live in Jesus' love (John 15:1-17). He knows me. He loves me. He wants to set me free. He fills me with Himself to enable the action and, when I stumble in trying to hear what love looks like or stumble in trying to live it, He, Love, draws me close once more with the gentle reminder, “This is where I want to love you.”