What Shape is Love?

 

My personality loves spontaneity and diversity. I like to live large and expansively (not to be confused with expensively!) and strict, sterile routine suffocates me. I need plenty of air to  breathe deeply, and feel stifled in tightly-fitting squares.

However.

Part of living a whole life includes some structure.

There are parts of my day that don’t change. The days are free-form and unpredictable but the beginnings and endings of the days have fixed points that give me stability and rest and predictability.

Coffee is one of those things.

But there’s more. Much more.

Some people call it ‘having devotions.’ I don’t, usually, because it sounds too sterile to me, but for all practical purposes, that’s what it is. It’s my quiet time, the time especially reserved for talking with God. It’s the still point around which everything else whirls. It’s the bread that keeps me alive, the exercise that keeps me healthy, the words that keep me sane.

It’s not all about me, but it’s my initiative, my decision, my deliberately moving into a position to focus and take part in something way, way bigger than me.

I’ve heard many people say they have trouble ‘having their devotions regularly.’ I say this quietly and humbly because I have a lot of trouble with a lot of things, but this particular issue not one of them. I DIE without those fixed points in my days. I get weak and whimpery and grouchy if I don’t keep that structure.

I’m talking about this here, not because I want to talk about me, but to encourage and nudge and facilitate you to find the same kind of sustenance if it’s been alluding you.

There are a ridiculous amount of devotional books out there with laughable titles that could make you cringe. (Don’t get me started!) None of them work for me, but if one does inspire you, or helps you focus, help yourself. What I love, love, love, is this monthly printable of adoration from Sara Hagarty. Every day has a different word to describe and adore God, and the rich words can set the tone for my whole day.

A little  chocolate icing on the cake is Grace Notes, daily readings compiled of Philips Yancey’s books and magazine articles. He’s my favorite contemporary Christian author, and there’s nothing cheesy or schmaltzy about his writing, so reading a page of his words gives me something substantial and dynamic to think about.

I’m not a Bible scholar. Should I be? I read the Bible to live. It’s bread and milk and meat to me. For several years, I’ve read the One Year Bible in the New Living Translation. I love the freshness and variety of daily pieces from both Old and New Testaments, Psalms, and Proverbs. The daily portions aren’t long, and are usually not enough food to feed me completely, but it’s a place to start.

In the evening, before I let myself pick up a book or turn off the light, I pick up my Thanks Journal and write at least one gift in the day.  I’ve blogged about this before here and here but I’ll say it again. Deliberately writing down gifts and reasons to be thankful is the simplest and  most effective way to keep a positive outlook and maintain a life-posture of worship. It’s not magic. It doesn’t help everything. But it helps a great deal.

Relationship with God has similarities to any friendship with a person. Healthy relationship includes seasons of  excitement,  silence, wonder, anger, questions–but always communication in some form. I don’t blog about all the details of my relationship with God because it’s way too intimate to share with many people, but to those who have trouble maintaining communication with the Creator of the Universe, I want to say: do what it takes to fill your part of the friendship.

Your part is to show up.

For my own sake and because I love him, I show up routinely.

He does His part.

15 thoughts on “What Shape is Love?

  1. Dear Anita,

    Thank you so much for this! I got all choked up, reading it.

    For years now, I have been showing up routinely, too. I NEED it. It’s my food, my life. I get weak and whimpery and grouchy without it, too. I DIE, spiritually.

    I’ve listened to confessions about not having devotions regularly, for years, too, not saying much. Because if I do share my experience, I get kind of disbelieving looks. And I don’t want to appear like a spiritual giant. I AM NOT A SPIRITUAL GIANT.

    Until I read your blog this morning, I really did think that maybe I am the only one. The struggling little girl, maybe, who just cannot make it without her Daddy, and without her food. That doesn’t sound at all like a spiritual giant. And I feel very weak sometimes. But when I am “sitting in God’s lap”, (my term for “devotions”) I bloom into a happy, loved, and carefree little girl. God tells me who I am, and I am strengthened, uplifted, awed, amazed. I laugh and I cry, and I sit still and let life whirl around me. I sit quietly and listen to God. It is my “peace center. And most of all, I am just loved and cared for. I record my “gifts”, too.

    I’m not a Bible scholar, either. I read God’s Word for food. I think we are of the same material, sister.

    I’ve not always needed God this much, I must say. But my life, or should I say, God’s work in my life, has brought me here. Hard things. But gifts, all the same, because they brought me to God’s lap.

    Because I love Him, too!

    Edna Yoder

    Russellville, OH

    • Thanks, Edna! In this upside-down kingdom, the weak ones are strong. Also, Jesus has a tender heart toward small, weak children–said we’re to be like them, actually! It takes a lot of strength to call hard things “gifts” but when they bring us to Him, they ARE severe mercies…

  2. you just described me!!! And as usual, you have the flowing, beautiful words that elude me. Thanks sister! I want to pass this on to my girls here……they are young, love social life (more than God) and so often struggle with “having their devotions”, (I cringe at that term!) in this busy, crazy, wonderful place! I long to lead them to the joy and relationship of it! But the sweet thing is that they are learning……and ultimately they do desire it. Bless you today.

  3. I wish I could copy and paste these words to a wall in my house, or at least the principle behind it. I need need NEED to keep this at the forefront. I find myself a little in reaction mode right now, because for years I dutifully, desperately “did my time” in the morning, and it got tiring. Now, my husband encourages me to look at it in the way you’ve put it here: as food, not as a job that good Christians just do.
    So thank you for letting us into your closet a little and reminding us where the heart of all this really lies. This is an opportunity to place ourselves in God’s circle. To sit close to Him, to love Him, to learn, to grow, and to be refreshed.

    • Yes, it’s about connection and sustenance, Kendra, not about putting in time or a page quota. Some days, one verse will feed you as much as 45 min. of reading did the day before, and it’s ok. We all like variety in our diet, you know!

  4. What I like most about “having devotions” is to just sit there next to the Prince of my Soul, simply enjoying His company.
    Beautiful writing Anita, and even more: a beautiful relationship with the Lord. I am so happy to have you in my life!

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