Finding Where Love Has Gone

Finding Where Love Has Gone

I consider myself lucky to live in a neighborhood where I know my neighbors.  We wave, talk at the mailbox, watch the children playing outside.  I can depend on them and they on me. I feel secure.

As a neighborhood, we help each other out.  Watering, getting the mail or feeding a pet when someone is out of town. Checking in with each other, sharing fresh baked cookies, homemade soup or a leftover casserole is common. Acts of kindness and helping f

Some of my friends are not so lucky.  They don’t know their neighbors.  They come home, shut the door, locking themselves in and their community out.

Listening to the evening news, I can understand wanting to lock the outside out.  It seems that crime is on the rise. The sense of being safe lost in the clamor of groups trying to be heard over the other.

I relish even more my safe, secure neighborhood. Like the secret garden, it remains forgotten. A haven where neighbors know each other and children can be heard playing ball in the front yards.

What happened to my community? My city, my state, my country, my nation, the world?

In 2005 Sheryl Crow released a song “Where Has All The Love Gone.” The lyrics demonstrated how immune our society was becoming to the misfortunes in our world.

 

WHERE HAS ALL THE LOVE GONE by Sheryl Crow – Jeff Trott

Written by Jeff Trott, Sheryl Crow • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc Reservoir One Music, Ole Media Management Lp, Reservoir Media Management Inc

Today I saw the strangest thing on the evening news
A man who wasn’t sad at all by what’s going on
And even though I’m trying to smile
With everything I see it could take a while

I’ve been looking everywhere I go
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

I’ve been looking all around to know
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?
I’ve been looking all around to know

Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

Yesterday I heard you say you never close your eyes
Sometimes the world’s a scary ride, it’s hard to hang on
Along the way, we got off track

Now if we turn around, can we ever get back?

I’ve been looking everywhere I go
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?
I’ve been looking all around to know
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?
Where has all the love gone?
I know it was there when we were gone

I’ve been looking everywhere I go
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?
I’ve been looking all around to know
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

Today I saw a flag roll by on a wooden box If it’s true we’d lost our way
Then what have we got?

I’ve been looking everywhere I go
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

I’ve been looking all around to know
Where has all the love, where has all the love gone?

Today I saw the strangest thing

 

 

 

 

I am saddened that violence seems to get closer to my secret neighborhood. I am saddened that I see hopeless faces in my community. Yes, so close to home.

Yes, where has all the love gone?

Jesus taught:

The second great commandment is this: “Love others in the same way you love yourself.”  Mark 12:31(Voice)

 

I have contemplated this commandment and what it means to me. A value I tried to live by throughout my life. I’ve held many conversations with my heavenly Father to understand what I can do.  For a long time, I first had to learn to love myself before I could love others.  I thought I was loving others, but the truth is, I fell short of the standard Jesus wants me to uphold.

I had to learn to let Jesus love me just the way I am, messy, confused and searching for answers.  Friend, let me repeat that on more time in case you missed it. I had to learn to let Jesus love me just the way I am, messy, confused and searching for answers. Then I learned to love others better.

Through the process, I learned three important points that make my neighborhood so special. When you think about them you will be able to use them in your neighborhood.

  • Recognize that we all have differences. Maybe it is cultural, traditions, a strong heritage, or new beginnings. It could be skin color, religion preference or favorite sports team. Take the time to learn about other people. Acknowledge our differences instead of placing them in the cooler to boil.
  • Learn to communicate. Our society is forgetting how to carry a simple conversation without texting. When was the last time that you started a conversation with someone you didn’t know? One of the best icebreakers I know is to say, “Will you tell me about that.” PS Start with your own family at dinner time, no electronics allowed.
  • Love one another recognizing that each person is a child of God. Christians must show the face of our God in everything we do. Loving each other, blind to how they are different, with forgiveness and mercy.

We are the hands and feet of our loving heavenly Father. Love is who He is.  Loving each other, blind to how they are different, with forgiveness and mercy, with our arms open wide. Share your blessings with others, that is why you are blessed.

What does the face of God look like to you? Don’t think about the paintings and art depicting what mankind thinks what God looks like.  Think of the actions that we can do to reflect His image.

James 2:14-17 gives an example of reflecting God’s image.

14 Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. 15 It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and 16 saying, “Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something,” but doing nothing about his needs—leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? 17 The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead.

It happened just like the man in the song who didn’t show sadness at what was going on around him. What is our future? Love remains locked away in calloused hearts incapable of triggering compassion. The key lost among words of good intention deprived of accomplishment.

This is not acceptable in my neighborhood, nor in my home.  My faith grows every time I act in Jesus’ name. Little steps following His voice, “Come with me,” He whispers. “I have plans for you. I am the key.”  With small acts of kindness, grace, mercy and abundant love we can change the face of God our community sees in the reflection of our smiles.

Will you join me?

 

A Mother’s Love

My mother always had cookies, brownies, western pound cake, or pineapple squares, available to us when we came home from school.  We walked (yes, we really did) down our road to the irrigation ditch, then followed the ditch until it intersected the larger water ditch. Heading north we looked for more treasures marking their location in the dirt. When we reached the paved street we only had about a quarter of a mile to go crossing Griegos to the school grounds.  I remember this path as if it were yesterday.  Coming home was always the best part. We had time to explore, look for treasures, demonstrate our bravery and play a few games on the way home.  Being the only girl in a neighborhood with seven boys had its rewards.

My mother passed away when I was only fifteen. Through the years of ups and downs and missing her presence the memories that rose to my thoughts were turned to negative bursts until I could no longer recall the hot cookies, fallen sponge cake, and a loving hug when it mattered.

When I was battling severe depression the therapist I was working with challenged me to come back the next week with one happy memory of my mother.  It was a rough week with many ups and downs where even warm chocolate chip cookies had turned negative. The next session was full of fear, tears, regret, blame, until I cried out to Jesus to help me understand. There was a glimmer of understanding.

I went home with a glimmer of hope.  I started journaling in a spiral note book filling it up at night when I couldn’t sleep as I discovered two sides of distant memories. Within a few more weeks I was able to stand in the positive memories.  It was hard work. Not only was I able to reclaim the love of my mother lost fifty-two years ago but I also learned another valuable lesson in the process.  The importance of looking at both sides of the coin for answers.

Now I am proud to say I can see and feel all the love my mother had for me and all of the pain she tried to hide from me.

Warm chocolate chip cookies, showed love.

Watching and helping me memorize poems, showed love.

Allowing me to be independent, showed love.

Handmade clothing, hours sitting at the sewing machine, showed love.

Piano lessons showed love.

When I spent hours in the top of the large cottonwood tree she would ask me, “What were you doing up there?” I would answer “Talking to God.” Her smile and silence showed love.

Love is action.  The little things are sometimes more important than the big things.  It is the little things that add up to that feeling of joy in your heart.  Many of my friends have also shared how they never looked at both sides of the coin.  Frequently we let what we perceive as a rejection by a parent cancel out the feeling of love.

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.

1 John 3:18 (VOICE)

My mother passed down to me a love of Jesus. Even when I stopped going to church I still tried to live by memorized scriptures and the things she taught me.  I let the anger that she passed away at the time I needed her most take hold and cloud my memory. That anger blocked my view and allowed the evil one to present his lies.

Love wins! Because love is not an idea or a theory.  It is all the little and big actions that point to the pattern of gracious love. Love is a warm cookie and a knowing smile. Love is action.

Even though I lost my Mom at fifteen I am lucky to still have my Dad at age ninety-seven.  Did he make mistakes, yes.  Every parent does. In the long run we all do.  But love wins and every time he says, “I love you too baby doll.” I know it!