Tuesday, April 16
The Best. The Best.
When he does weddings he wears the four-button suit, shines shoes, chooses a humble tie for the forever photos.
When he does weddings he checks on the bride, soothes the groom's nerves, assures that all will be well.
When he does weddings he says this:
Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that seeks the best in its object.
It's not as sterile as it seems, defining love like this: a choice + a feeling. They're commutative: one can be before the other. And the next day the other comes first to get the same answer. We know it's love because it seeks the best. Thinks the best. Hopes, we say.
Love isn't just a marital association. It isn't reserved for the couple, passionate and young. It doesn't belong only to the partners now forty or fifty years into covenant.
It is a gift to the world. It is the way we should see.
In all the relationships and connections and concentric circles rippling from closest to strangest we use love in different measure, giving it more weight here and less there.
We speak it, "I'd love to be there." "I love this group." "Love you, Friend."
We preach it, "love...brother," "love...neighbor," "love...enemy. "
Oh, perhaps not that one. And maybe not the other one much. Thinking the best of brother, neighbor, enemy = too hard. Uncalled for.
Maybe not on the highway. We're certain that young woman never knew how to drive. Maybe not in the wee sunlight hours when the neighbor starts the Saturday mower. Of course, he's intending to be rude. Maybe not when the child answers you gruffly. He most definitely meant to offend your heart. Maybe not in relation to officials. We have a right to conjecture their motives. And probably not when the pastor says the thing that stings, or confuses or takes the heart where it wasn't planning to go. He is trying to betray, mislead or ruin. You know it.
How is it love, these assumptions we make about one another? This accusation we toss out. This bite. That cut. Yesterday's head shake and huff. We hide behind being the devil's advocate, the victim, the one who gets it. But we don't, nearly enough, lay down the defenses, give the benefit of the doubt, become a student, listen. I do it wrong sometimes [more than I think] too. And every time I do I fail at the core of love and move from the viewpoint of God. Movements away from God only take us into dark, not right.
God seeks out the beauty, the future, the potential in all his imago dei. How can we get his eyes? How can we see the best? How can we begin to say that we love anything again?
Peter excitedly swam to the beach to be with Jesus, the very one he'd betrayed. Who runs to the one he's wronged? He'd already died, already risen, and now Jesus had breakfast ready on the beach. Peter didn't assume his friend would accuse him, smite him, send him away. He assumed the very best; that acceptance and understanding and forgiveness would be on the menu. Isn't that proof of the love he declares three times? "I trust you enough to forgive me, to show me another way, to inspire me and walk with me. Yes, I love you. You have seen it."
We easily identify that Jesus sees the best in Peter, looking far past the failure to the future of his strength and courage and leadership. And so the gift reveals itself: offering forgiveness is an act of love but seeking forgiveness is the other. In this loving step, we each seek the best in our object.
Offer grace. Seek the best. Chase down and hand out forgiveness. Then, we'll see.