Two weddings in two weeks, one Saturday after the other. That’s a whole lotta love in a very short space of time. To tell you the truth, it’s totally overwhelmed me. Totally and utterly, because I was reminded of the human capacity to love. I guess that sounds a little bleak (and soppy), doesn’t it? But honestly, I needed to be overwhelmed. Because it can be so very easy to forget the good things we’re capable of when so much evil exists in the world, all of it our own making in some way or another.
And you know, I’ve realised it’s not just the events that are plastered on prime time TV that get us down. Our personal lives can actually be what impact us most; those small and seemingly insignificant problems that eat away at you, a little more each passing day. For me, this is certainly the case, and I’ve found the past few years have done exactly that: eaten away at my joy. Life has not been a walk in the park – as much as I would like to say that it has been – but more of a hike up a series of hideously high mountains. With bears and tigers lurking behind every boulder. And instead of hiking boots I am wearing thongs. Urgh.
To make matters worse, somewhere along the line (as I was hiking said mountains in my flimsy thongs) I acquired the very ineffective skill of dwelling upon all the rubbish parts of life: the fights, the fear, the anxiety, the loss, the insufficiency, the broken relationships, the illness. And of course, I did this without blinking an eye at all the blessings around me.
Just last week I was totally rebuked for this, for my catastrophising/grudge-holding/negativity/lack of perspective and to be honest, it felt like a slap in the face with a big wet fish on a really cold day. You see, this habit is so deeply ingrained in my mental processing that I had to be told point blank for the reality of it to sink in. Ah yes, such was the impact!
So with that in mind, I’m glad to say that these recent and rather joyful events have been a powerful (and much needed) reminder of God’s epic and relentless love for His people – for you, for me. I’ve had the honour of being a bridesmaid, a sister, a friend… and I wonder, in wanting to remind me that love and goodness still exists in this world, could God have positioned me in a better place? I don’t doubt that He really did put me there – in that very dress, next to that beautiful bride – to remind me of something special: that He loves His people in the same way a husband loves his wife: relentlessly and ferociously. Unconditionally. He is forever doting upon us, totally self-sacrificing. That’s what the convenant of marriage truly reflects.
I’m completely in awe of the uber extravagant love that I’ve witnessed recently, in people who know God and people who don’t. It’s been a timely reminder; something I will think upon even in the darkest of times, or perhaps when things are really not so bad but I’ve simply lost sight of my old friend Perspective.
Perhaps the season you’re in is hard and arduous. Perhaps you have a tendency to dwell on the negatives like moi. Perhaps you have no hope at all and you don’t know why. But can I encourage you to rejoice in the Lord* (and read Philippians 4:4 -9), knowing that all around us there are blessings, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear. All around us, love abounds in the midst of disaster, depression, despair. In the midst of this broken world, marriages still happen, people fall in love, family comes together, babies are born, friends meet for coffee and laugh for hours, children fall asleep in the arms of their parents. And God is an ever-present rock, delighting in it all.
*NB: Rejoicing doesn’t have to mean jumping for joy like you’re in a Toyota ad. Rejoicing can be quiet, restrained, challenging. For you, it may simply be a matter of the heart. For example, my dear friend recently lost her nan, and while she was devastated, she was also rejoicing that her granny was going to be with God. In fact, her nan even rejoiced in her death, saying “I’m going to beat you there (to heaven)”.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.