How to love freely?

Girl jumping with rose petals in air

John 13:34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

The word “love” can carry a lot of false meanings with it, be easy to mistrust and may seem quaint or weak or shallow depending on one’s experience. But how we treat each other carries a significant amount of weight, and how much real love is part of that treatment is the deal breaker. In the most simplistic of terms, we came to Japan to love people – each other, our colleagues, our neighbors, our students, the people we meet in the subway, everyone with whom we come into contact. This is easier said than done, but lately we’ve been thinking about questions that can help guide the process:

– Am I focusing on rules and empty religion or living out a profoundly grace-filled, life-giving relationship with the Creator of the universe?

– Do I have a superiority complex in any area or do I see the people around me as true equals? (Religion/spiritual beliefs, nationality, race, education, social class, physical limitations, etc)

– Is my pride getting in the way (like the time the woman at the train station insisted against my wishes to carry the stroller down the stairs for me so I could hold Sophia’s hand and I proudly walked in front of her to “show” those around me that neither Sophia nor I needed their help)?

– Am I holding relationships tightly enough so that it hurts, but loosely enough that I’m not trying to control, change or manipulate people?

Love is simple, but it sure isn’t easy. Sometimes my prayer is just that I wouldn’t do any damage to those with whom I come into contact (especially our daughter and Japanese nationals). On a good day, I act responsibly, do the next right thing, and then trust God will be God and I can put my feet up.


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