Speaking of being inconvenienced, this quote has been running amuck in my mind. I can't shake these words. When I initially read it, I immediately thought, "Yes. That's it." My very next thought was, "Wait, that doesn't sound right." My dichotomous thoughts, like a clock's pendulum, continued swinging back and forth, and I had no idea why. Until today.
The quote invoked feelings of shame. I feel shame when I think about how I am inconvenienced in loving others. My acts of service and love are accompanied by thoughts of my to-do list, some preferred activity, or my own personal issues. I feel shame because how dare I feel inconvenienced to serve and love others after all the Lord has done and is doing for me.
More times than not, I serve and love anyway. And y'all, that is Jesus. That is Jesus manifesting himself in and through my humanity. I can't even count the number of times I have felt shame and condemnation over my hesitancy and lack of desire to serve. Each time I am missing out on the beauty that comes from the service itself. My feelings about my feelings become boxing gloves. I become so wrapped up in my internal state and thoughts that I miss the fact that I put one foot in front of the other and did the thing anyway. I miss the beauty of the actual exchange, because I am too busy fighting with my very humanity. Shame attempts to steal my joy by making it all about me. God will always be glorified. Shame DOES NOT have the power to steal his glory. God will be glorified with or without me. But shame CAN steal my joy.
We will always feel inconvenienced by love, because love IS an inconvenience! Calling it what it is, and allowing God to work and love and serve through us in spite of these feelings is living out of our true selves: Christ in us. May the inconvenience of loving awaken us to our humanity and our desperate need for Him. If we didn't struggle in our humanity, we wouldn't need Him in the first place. We have to experience our humanity and weaknesses in order to experience God.
Dan Stone and David Gregory, in their book, The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out, write about being moved "from thoughts and feelings (which are perfectly normal reactions to life's situations), to the level of the spirit, to faith, to allowing Christ to respond to situations through you with His life. The situation stays the same, but you have shifted on the inside." They go on to discuss how Jesus did not deny his overwhelming feelings in the Garden before he was to be crucified. Instead, "He chose to live from the Father rather than from his feelings."
For the mother with a toddler at her ankles and folding the fifth load of laundry for the day:
For the teacher who provides one more gentle prompt for the child who has blurted out a million times:
For the person who has worked hard all day and delivers a casserole to her neighbor in need:
For the spouse who refrained from reciprocating hateful words:
For the person caring for aging parents or a sick friend:
For the person who missed the season finale of her favorite show because a friend was in need:
For the waitress who has dealt with a rude customer on the hour every hour:
For the individual who chooses a couple of hours of rest over the to do list (because we can't forget about loving ourselves correctly):
Know that Jesus is begin glorified even when you FEEL inconvenienced. More importantly, Jesus is being glorified because even though the thing you are doing IS an inconvenience, you love anyway. Shake the shame. Embrace your natural human response. Let it push you deeper into Christ; not deeper into a place of self loathing.
The truth is that being willing to love in spite of the inconvenience is God showcasing himself through us regardless of how we feel. Our feeling of being inconvenienced is an invitation for God to love through us and in spite of us. It is His way of letting us know, that apart from Him we will run out of steam and will live selfishly. But in Him, we are able to choose truth over feelings, and to love regardless of the inconvenience.