The greatest of these

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, folks. Between personal stuff, work stuff, and world stuff, November has not been kind. It’s at times like these that’s it’s the most difficult to choose joy. To see the light in all the darkness, especially when the darkness seems to invade your every pore.

Last week my grandma was in the hospital for a couple of days. While she was there, my grandpa moved into the guest room because he refused to sleep in their bed without her. They’ve been married 63 years. I can’t even imagine the depth of that love. The cynic in me wonders if that sort of love even exists anymore, if we’re capable of loving another person like that in a world where we swipe right to show our interest in someone. I’ve had a couple of conversations to that effect throughout the week, and the consensus is that yes, we have the ability, but few people tap into it anymore. In a society where we are so “me-focused” and used to instant gratification, love seems to turn into more of something to check off the list than something to really dedicate time and energy to. Of course, there are exceptions. I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s love story. On the contrary, I’m really interested in what makes those exceptions, what people do to keep that sort of love alive.

It occurred to me that to really see what made those special connections work, it’s necessary to look outside of romantic relationships. Our world is connected by relationships. It’s all we are, really, a great big bundle of relationships. We are our own person, yes, but we are also defined by our relationships. Our relationships with friends, family, strangers, the world at large. How we react to people sets the tone for how we live our lives, and our actions and reactions can have massive impact on the lives of others. That’s what happens when you live in community.

After what’s happened in the world over the past couple of weeks, in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, in places all over the world that most people know nothing about, there should be no doubt as to the ripple effect actions and reactions have on the world community. Hop on any comment thread and you’ll find prayers for peace, yes, but mostly you find hate, blame, calls for violence and retaliation. And to what end?

Some words I’ve been meditating on over the past few days as I contemplate my own responses:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst…If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” – Matthew 5:43-47

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I don’t know what my point is in all of this. I just know that I’m weary of the hatred and mudslinging. Life is hard enough without adding to it. What if we tried to take the burdens of our brothers and sisters, instead of playing the blame game? What if we tried to be the light and love on people, even when they’re not our favorites? I don’t know what the answers to all the world’s problems are. I don’t even know what the answers are to all the problems in my own life, though those seem very small in comparison. All I do know is that I’m choosing to find the light, to see the good, even in its most minuscule amounts.

One of my favorite movies, especially around this time of year, is Love, Actually. The opening scene is gold, and really sums up this entire post.

“…but the greatest of these is LOVE.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Blessings and love to you all, my friends.

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10 Responses to The greatest of these

  1. amiallenvath says:

    Great post, Rena. Sending good and positive thoughts for you, your grandpa and especially your grandma. XO

  2. Your honesty is always so encouraging. It’s so hard to find anything to say. I love your hope that acknowledges the darkness.

    And, of course, prayers for your grandparents.

    • Rena says:

      Thank you! I think hope stands stronger in the face of darkness and adversity. It’s easy to hope for things when they’re already good. Sometimes I struggle with how much to share, but I would rather be genuine than pretend to be perfect 🙂

  3. Great post. I have so many thoughts, and I can’t make sense of any of them at the moment.

    Like you, I’m in awe of the love stories that have stood the test of time and faced innumerable challenges because too many others seem to give up easily. But those exceptions help me keep hope alive.

    Prayers for your grandparents. I hope your grandmother gets better and your grandfather gets through his loneliness as well.

    Also, I really love the opening scene of “Love, Actually.”

  4. KNew says:

    It’s a sacrifice of praise, but it’s still praise, and I’m choosing it, too.
    Hugs you for the reminder that we’re all “a great big bundle of relationships.”

  5. Kathy Palm says:

    Well said. ❤ Personally I love looking for the light in the darkness.

  6. alison1105 says:

    Hey, what a great MLK quote. It very beautifully and succinctly sums up what i think a lot of folks are trying to say.

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