Saturday, March 29, 2014

What I’ve Learned from Steven Curtis Chapman: The Best Life is One Lived Loved

Steven Curtis Chapman is a Christian singer who has been around forever.  I listened to his music as a teen, and he is still singing amazing praise songs to the Lord.

When hearing his song, “Love Take Me Over” on the radio, I realized it was sticking in my brain.  It’s a catchy tune, but there was more than that going through my head.  The lyrics stuck, especially:

This is what I'm sure of, I can only show love
When I really know how loved I am

When it overtakes me, then it animates me
Flowing from my heart into my hands

This idea of living loved, and of the feeling of love pouring out to others, appealed to me.  It’s not usually the way I do business.  At the time, I was definitely not rolling out of bed thinking of how much God loves me, seeks me, wants to be a part of everything I do.  I knew this intellectually, but I had a hard time letting it in on a heart level.  It’s still a pretty outstanding thought, joyous and undeniably insane news if you dwell on it. 

 As I continued to read authors like Donald Miller, Sarah Bessey, and Jen Hatmaker, I realized this message was popping up everywhere.  Then there’s the Bible where John, my favorite disciple, describes himself as “the one Jesus loves” without any obvious hesitation.  Could feeling loved instead of just shameful and bad when I failed make a difference? 

Life, parenting, everything can be a challenge, and it used to be my habit to replay my failings big-screen-movie style across my brain at night, see them all over again, relive the loss of the way I should have done things.  Sure, I hoped for better the next day, even prayed for it, but I didn’t focus on living loved, and it didn’t work. 

I finally shifted my perspective, decided to truly try to meditate and bask in the idea of a God who loves me, already sent His son to die for me even though He is fully aware of my failings, has given me everything so that I no longer live incomplete.  It worked.

Over the next few days, life did not magically get easier, but how I saw life and responded to it did.  Feeling loved, truly loved, knowing I didn’t need anything else to feel complete, changed how I looked at everyday life and that changed how I treated people.  Feeling loved made me want to share the feeling with everyone.  My kids and husband benefitted.  I still screwed up, but the recovery time was much faster.  People I saw outside of my family commented on my happiness.  I’ve always been a pretty upbeat person, but I actually had a woman tell me I was radiating a natural light.  She didn’t speak English very well, so I’m not sure if that’s what she really meant, but it’s what she said.  Living loved was allowing the light of Christ to spill out of me onto others.  It made a difference.

As with most things, a fallen world makes it difficult to carry out even the best practices, and I have to pray and then focus daily on feeling loved by the Lord, allowing myself to embrace it, which enables me to share that love with others.  It is against my natural way of thinking which is “do well, feel loved” or “fail, feel undeserving of love.”  I have to surrender to the Lord and then fight back the old ways.  But it’s worth the fight.  It’s worth the feeling.  Living loved is when I truly know who I am and when I can truly see the best in those around me.

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