The secret to loving well

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We’ve been soaking this summer in memories, asking, “What, right here in the middle of the year, the middle of life, the middle of a messy or happy or numbing day, do I most need to remember? What is the solid ground I need to feel under my feet in order to keep faithfully moving forward?” 

We’ve remembered that God speaks into every moment of every day, This is where I want to love you,” that we are no longer our own but his, and that our days here are just the beginning. We’ve recalled that the way to really rest is to receive God’s invitation to stay small and be carried, even while his love makes us great.

Summer isn’t over and the list of things I could pick out to remember is endless, but I’ve realized something. All the things I most need to remember point back to this one truth: God really loves us. Everything that matters flows from there.

So this is the last post in this series and the last post of this summer, because sometimes remembering calls us to action—or to inaction—that can’t happen on the screen. Some things that you remember need to be leaned into and learned for longer than a week.

Every summer I wrestle a bit with this: is it really okay to let this space be silent for a month?

The experts tell me I need to keep churning out content.

God seems to be asking different questions.

If I can’t take a break without fear. . .

  • Whose kingdom am I trying to build? Whose name am I trying to honor? God doesn’t bless anyone’s efforts to build their own kingdoms. And no one except God can build His own.
  • Are the words I write—words about staying small and receiving God’s rest—just nice words on the screen or do I actually believe them enough to live them? Words don’t matter at all if they don’t matter enough to live them.
  • Do I believe what God says, that the single most important thing I can do to love others well is to keep my own heart in God’s love? That it’s the only way I can love others well?

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. . . If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. . . . As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15)

I’ve been working hard with difficult material for many months and I’m tired. I need to set aside, for a few weeks, the discipline and the gift of writing and enter the gift and the discipline of rest. I need to feel sand between my toes and listen to one wave after another caressing the beach. I need to live by the tides instead of by my watch. I need to put away the computer and pick up a real paper book with words that somebody else has written, and build a sandcastle and look for beach glass and eat barbecued burgers under the sky with my niece and nephews. I need, for a few weeks, to stop trying to find words and let the Word fill me up again and rest me in his always-big-enough love. I need to be small and human and let God be God.

See you back here when I’ve dusted the red PEI sand off my feet and the calendar is turning to September. In the meantime, will you join me in doing whatever you need to do to “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 21)?

8 thoughts on “The secret to loving well

  1. This is maybe the best post ever!!! I mean they are all good, but giving yourself and us permission to rest is so awesome. With fundraising the same pressure to keep putting stuff out is there and I feel it sometimes. Thanks for reminding us why we can rest! Hope you had a good break!

    • momfan says:

      Love your comment, Bonita, and as I re-read this post this morning, several lines stood out again to encourage me as I prepare with some amount of trepidation to teach a Senior High Sunday school class this fall: “… receive God’s invitation to stay small and be carried, even while his love makes us great,” “No one except God can build his own [kingdom],” “The single most important thing I can do to love others well is to keep my own heart in God’s love,” … “apart from me you can do nothing!” Every blessing to you in your life and work too! Love, Marny

  2. BJMH says:

    I’m just completing my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at a hospital. It’s been a very intense summer of offering spiritual care and digging deep into my own messy psyche/soul/story.
    Your blog has offered clarity in the midst (mist?). Thank you!
    I, too, will try to rest and listen to God’s loving Word.
    Blessings.

  3. klara van der Molen says:

    Dear Carolyn, we all need rest and time away from whatever we feel compelled to do. I pray that Jesus will restore you, refresh you and behold you as you spend this time with loved ones and without obligation to write! I too will be away for a while to be refreshed with my family in Holland, I so understand. May your smallness become greatness in His love for you as you rest!

  4. Esther Hizsa says:

    Yes, Rest well and be blessed and loved, and loved and blessed. Thank you for blessing us with your faithfulness to write and rest.

  5. KD says:

    Deep rest and restoration to you …. and safe travel.

  6. femmefuel says:

    Sister, enjoy your time with family and friends, and being small. I can only guess that God will powerfully bring you back to your gift of writing in September. Enjoy and be filled!

  7. Have a wonderful, wonder-filled rest, Carolyn. You have chosen the better thing and it won’t be taken from you. Blessings!

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