Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. –Mother Teresa
Along similar lines, my husband has been known to say, “You know Jesus is really Lord when He is Lord of your tiredness.”
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to respond with love when I am tired. Tiredness causes my defenses to quickly fade into the background and makes way for center stage to be overrun with any manner of offensive behaviors. Slight infractions (ie. muddy boots tracking across kitchen floors, volumes turned too loudly on the computer, a dirty dish placed on the counter as soon as I let the dishwater out…) are suddenly viewed as felonies deliberately set against me. Seriously, it seems that when I am approaching the point of exhaustion, that’s when EVERYONE turns on me – interrupting, hindering, agitating, and otherwise depriving me of the peace and quiet to which I am entitled. I am entitled to peace and quiet, aren’t I?
And perhaps right there is where I first start to slip in loving. When I feel entitled to peace and quiet. When I feel I deserve the rest after I’ve served others for so long. When I think I am the one who needs a break. And in my tiredness, instead of loving, I snap.
Any pretense toward godliness is suddenly stripped away, replaced with a caustic attitude that bubbles toward the surface of my psyche faster than lava overflows from a volcano. Instead of pouring forth loving scriptures with which I have so recently filled my mind – as in, five minutes removed from my devotional time with Jesus – I spew out angry words of frustration. Words that are meant to strike back at the one responsible for my irritation. Except, the one truly responsible is not the one receiving my vented emotions. The one responsible is the face staring back at me when I glance in the mirror. For the truth of the matter is, no one can “make me mad,” unless I allow them that privilege.
God has given me a power to overcome my bent toward blowing it. It is the Holy Spirit living within me who has the strength to breathe out self-control when I’m tempted to exhale nastiness. But I have to make a deliberate choice to give Him the freedom to not only move in me, but to move me toward a godly reaction. To my dismay, I frequently lean toward the immaturity of disregarding His prodding. Ignoring His gentle nudging in my spirit, I defiantly turn my back and choose my own way. And subsequently, fail in loving. I fail in being genuine in my faith. I fail in allowing Christ to truly be Lord of this moment. Of this life.
Submerged in selfishness instead of selflessness, I fail to reveal the truth that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world,” as I release the reins of my tongue. And I am appalled, at times, by what comes forth. By the cruel words that have found their way not only to the surface, but all the way into the heart of one I love. After the fact, I am crushed by the crushing blows I have dealt another.
While regret is present and apologies are extended and forgiveness is given, I cannot take back the words that were spoken. I cannot undo the hurt that was inflicted. I can only ask God to bring healing. I can only trust His touch to make all things new. I can only yield to His love to be lived through me… the next time. Because I sure didn’t give sway to Him this time.
In the midst of this messiness of my soul, I find myself thanking God for His genuine love. A love that tirelessly extends grace to this daughter found grasping for it time and again. A love that is always extraordinary – no matter how small or large it may appear.
It’s true, you know, it is hard to respond with love when we’re tired. Hard… yet not impossible. But it will require something of us. It takes a yielding heart filled with genuine love. A love that gives God what He is entitled to and seeks no place of its own… even in tiredness.