We are all looking for love.
A place where we feel welcomed with open arms.
Somewhere we feel seen.
Some of us are fortunate to find it with our families.
Others may look to their friends.
But there are those who cross our paths daily who do not feel any of these things.
We may walk right past them without ever noticing.
Maybe we are consumed with what is happening in our own world or too busy to look up from our phones.
Whatever the case may be , we are all called to love.
To stop and care for all who cross our paths.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Mother Teresa:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
No one does this better than my friend, Nikki.
If you ask our tribe, we will all tell you that she has the biggest and most generous heart.
But it is not because of the love she shows to her friends.
It is the love she shows to everyone who walks through the doors of her restaurant on Main Street in the ’Burg.
She notices everyone who walks in the door.
All are welcomed with open arms or greeted with a hug.
Kindness shines through Nikki’s eyes and her smile.
She listens to understand, not respond.
She will tell you about the student she is so proud of who is working so hard or share a kind word with someone who needs a smile.
And while she may be gifted in making the best eggplant parmesan and barbeque chicken pizza, this is not what brings her joy.
It is being that safe place for others to land.
People leave with a full stomach and a full heart.
They leave better than when they walked in the door.
They are seen.
My friend loves with all her heart, because she knows she is loved.
Her faith tells her she is always welcomed with open arms.
That she is seen.
Let’s all be a living expression of that love today.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4: 7-21
The clarity was remarkable.
What had been blurry for so long was now in focus.
I was looking at the world through a new lens.
Two days after my cataract surgery, I was able to read a line that previously would have resembled a fuzzy caterpillar.
Not being able to see without the aid of glasses or contacts since the 5th grade, the awe of this new gift remains.
Things in the distance were clearer than they had ever been.
Reflecting on this experience, it seems almost parallel with how we walk in this world.
Knowing God helps us to see ourselves and our circumstances with remarkable clarity.
Some days we may feel unseen and unvalued.
But our Creator knows us intimately and know our worth.
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you: Jeremiah 1:5 MSG
“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” Luke 6-7 MSG
There are days we may feel unloved and unworthy.
But when we view ourselves through the lens of His great love, we see He sent His only Son to go to the cross in our place.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; John 3 16-18 MSG
Not knowing what lies in the days ahead can often fill us with fear and anxiety.
But when we look through the lens of faith, we can see our heavenly Father clearly in the distance.
“I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 MSG
Friends, when we walk in faith it is like viewing the world through a new lens.
What had been blurry comes into focus when we are seeing everything through the lens of His love.
Things in the distance are clear because we can see our Father already there waiting for us.
The awe of this gift remains.
My prayer is that you see the world with this clarity.