The past few weeks, I've been breeding a sort of bitterness in my spirit. Life just isn't want I want it to be every day. And it seems sometimes that the closer I get to getting there, the more things seem to just sneak in and take me further away. Things pop up that require me to take care of them, and somewhere in the midst of all that, I feel like I'm getting taken away and all that purpose, all that peace, all that love that I want to define me gets saddled with this burden of yet something else stealing away from me, and I get bitter. I resent that.
But the other day, after yet another change of plans, another dilemma, another troubled moment, another expectation that I hadn't planned on, I started thinking about what was really bothering me.
The truth is that this world has never taken anything from me that I wasn't willing to give away. What I resent, I realized, is the world's taking without giving me the chance to give. I love being asked; I hate being told.
When someone asks me to do something for them, it opens my heart. It's an invitation to start looking at myself and figure out what it is that I have to offer. You want something; do I have it in me? I get to assess my spirit, take inventory of my skills, investigate my heart to discover something more inside myself. I get to look deep into everything God made in me, and by doing so, I settle a little more into all that I am. I settle a little more into created. I look deeper into the eyes and heart of God, and see something...I don't want to sound vain, but....holy created in me.
It's kind of the answer to life that I think everyone's looking for. I know I am. To have that chance to understand created just a little more, to see purpose and plan and promise in your life, to look inside yourself and for a moment, think about what it is to be you outside of all the world's voices and cookie cutters that think you've got to be something else. Then to decide, yes. Yes, that is in me. Yes, I am created to do that. Yes, I would love to do that for you. Yes, I would love to love you. Because I can love; I was created to love.
That's why I love being asked.
That's also why I resent being told. Told is not an invitation; it is a burden. It is one more thing that's got to be done, that you, in particular, have to take care of. It is so completely not about anything created in you that it's offensive. It is a task. It is a duty. And when you're not paying attention, it's really hard to turn that into love.
Sometimes, I get in these hearts where I'm just giving it away and fully engulfed in this spirit of love. I love loving. In these times, though, all this burden kicks in because there are people who see that you are doing and will not hesitate to tell you what else you need to put on your list. And if you're in the spirit of love, it's easy to fool yourself and think that all doing is loving, but that's just not true. After awhile, it just eats away at you - all this doing - until you start to question the very nature of your love. Is it good enough? And you start to think you don't love this person or that person or that thing. Does that make you a bad person?
No. It just means you've been taken. Being taken wears you down. It whittles away at the love that you have until you're firmly stuck in duty. It's hard to break out of that.
But love requires that you find a way to give it away. Love requires that you give of yourself. Not, as many would tell you, that you give yourself away but that you give of yourself. (If you give yourself, the world will own you. If you give of yourself, you own your love.) That's how you find that you always have enough love - by taking the invitation as a chance to discover your love, then giving a little of that away such that in every place, love grows. It doesn't mean you only do the things you love to do, or even the things you like. It means that you choose love and regardless of the task at hand, you realize that love is what you do.
Whether love looks like arranging flowers or scrubbing a toilet.
I've been bitter about being told, but it's kind of been my own fault. I've forgotten the discipline of daily giving it away. Of giving of myself before it can be taken from me. And it doesn't have to be something in particular.
It's the simple choice to wake up in the morning and ask God what the world is going to require from me today. To ask Him what's up, what's going down, what's going on. To figure out what it might require from me to love this world today. And to take that invitation to discover what He's created in me, to settle into created and to choose love.
Nobody's ever taken a thing from me that I wasn't willing to give. So I must decide first to give, and then come what may, I'm ready. I'm ready to love. With all the purpose, the peace, and the promise in my heart of a woman created who can do this. I can do this.
But I still prefer to be asked.