One week ago I stood on the edge of a beautiful ridge in Orange County, California, trying to get just the right angle with my iPhone to capture the wonder of a mountain scape at my back and an oceanic vista at my front.
Ya’ll, I’m no photographer. I couldn’t get it. But it was breathtaking. You will just have to experience it for yourself.
Earlier that day though, I was able to capture another wonder-filled moment. Again, I’m no photographer, but…I think it will serve my point in this day.
This is what love looks like, on me.
I’m not talking pink stuffed unicorns and Paw Patrol chocolates (which is what love looked like for our girl this morning).
I mean the “Heather, I see you. I know you. I hear you. I don’t need the make-up on, or the schedule balanced, or the faith strong, or the food cooked and colorful, or the work done…or even the motives all pure. I’m sorry you are hurting, and I’m with you because I love you. I actually really enjoy being with you all the time” kind of love.
This is the God-sized love that fills the nooks and crannies where our families and friends can’t get into, no matter how hard they may try (or how tightly we try to squeeze it out of them).
I needed this love, in this moment. Just the week before at home I was becoming aware of the condition of my soul – and it wasn’t good. In fact, I shared with my husband how “something has to give” and the truth was, Jesus had already given it. Something just needed to be received! So after a long cross-country flight, a hotel stay, and hours of listening to Jesus and others extend empathy toward me and each other, I began to receive the love of Jesus again.
When I feel loved I walk slower. I breathe deeper. I see beauty around me and sometimes I take a picture. I smile, I hum, and I remember Psalms and passages I memorized decades ago. I return Home to my first Love, the One I sometimes turn to last. But I don’t come Home to One who gives snarky one-liners about the last time I visited. I don’t get eye rolls and guilt trips. Instead I find the fire burning, hot coffee brewed and waiting, a warm velvet blanket draped over a chair that could swallow me whole and a heart full of grace for me. I come Home to Jesus with my soul, the closest of friends who pick up right where they left off…like no time has passed between them.
This is where I was as I strolled the street down from the retreat home where I was reconnecting with Jesus. I was trying to take pictures of the land, of the flowers, of the cactus clusters and the sky. I had all notifications off except for my husband, who sent pictures of our daughter. He had surprised her with a trip to Disney World while I was away, she had on Minnie Mouse ears and her smile reached both ears.
I heard Jesus lean in close, “She is playing with her Daddy in a magical kingdom…and so are you, Heather. All her Daddy wants to do is capture her in this moment, loved. I do too.”
This was not about selfies or shame. Love wouldn’t give it the space. This was about a girl with her Daddy playing in a magical Kingdom…and He just wanted her picture, loved.
When I forget what love is, real love, I want to look at these images and remember my way Home.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
Friend, I wonder what you look like, loved? I would love to see that frame. I pray you experience it, soon, for yourself.