Few people have shaped my life like my beloved Oma Toews, my maternal grandmother. She was a woman with extraordinary capacity and I was blessed to be a recipient of her huge and bountiful heart. Her capacity to love has instructed me all of my life. I will never forget the day of her funeral service when I learned one of the greatest lessons of my life from the way she loved.
I know it sounds rather arrogant to say, but I truly believed that I was my Oma’s favourite. I was well aware that she loved all my siblings and cousins, but secretly I was convinced she had a special place in her heart that was reserved for me alone—the favourite one. Following her funeral service, we gathered in the fellowship hall of the church and people were invited to share stories and their fondest memories of my Oma. How surprised I was to hear that person after person felt exactly the same way that I did—they all seemed to suspect that they were Oma’s favourite too!
Not only did her family feel that way, but virtually everyone in her life felt that somehow they shared an extra-special bond with her. Her capacity to make every single person a treasured somebody has been a constant source of encouragement and challenge in my life. She loved enormously and without reservation no matter how much hurt and disappointment she endured in life. I know that her decision to love so extensively wasn’t an easy choice at all. It was costly but obviously so very worth it. How I would so love to be known as a woman whose capacity to love was immense.
Our capacity to love will be the most significant thing that shapes our life and our future. Love is far more than a feeling based on our emotions and it is costly and rare. Love that doesn’t cost us is just a feeling. We enlarge and stretch our capacity by choosing love because our hearts are not finite. As children of God we are equipped and empowered to love without human measure because of Love that lives within us. Love is the greatest superpower that this world will ever know. It transcends the darkness and evil in this world that constantly seeks to annihilate it. Love is greater, more powerful and lasting and will never, ever fail.
“But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love.’” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (The Voice)
As our love grows we have less and less room for unforgiveness, judgement or fear.
Nothing will block your capacity to grow into all that God intends for you to be like choosing not to forgive. Life is guaranteed to give you many opportunities to be offended, hurt and disappointed. Forgiving someone is not so much about them as it is about investing into your own future. Your heart can’t handle the unbearable weight of unforgiveness, so the sooner you release it, the freer you will be to grow your heart and future.
Jesus taught us so clearly that when we judge someone, it is actually an indictment of our very own hearts. This truth has challenged me more times than I care to admit.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.’ Matthew 7:1-3 (The Message)
What can I say but, “OUCH, Hallelujah!” I know that when I am tempted to judge people, I have chosen to limit my capacity to love people, so while I struggle almost daily to keep this in check, I will hopefully consistently choose the high road on this by the grace of God.
And when it comes to fear, remember: a heart that loves is a heart that has chosen to trust. Trust means that we are willing to open our hearts to others who could potentially hurt us. Every single relationship on earth has the ability to hurt us. Many have been hurt deeply and have decided that because of this they will close themselves off relationally as a way to protect themselves, but sadly the opposite happens. We end up building a cage around our heart and life that becomes impenetrable, isolating ourselves and living a lonely existence instead of a flourishing life, filled with amazing relationships. It is risky? Absolutely, but so very, very worth it too!
So, my gorgeous sisters, let’s all launch into this brand new year with a longing to grow in our capacity to love like Jesus loved. He held nothing back and His Spirit living in us enables us to grow a greater capacity to love without self-imposed limitations.
Ready? Let’s do this! xox