Monthly Archives

November 2016

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Agape

I often ask God to help me love like her, to help my heart be open to all, to have eyes that see people as God sees them. Lately I have been pondering and meditating on what exactly it means to “love like God.” Obviously I am a broken human and I will never be able to love as God loves–none of us ever will; but still, I pray that God helps me to love like she does.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a dear friend, somehow the conversation turned to God. As this friend asked me questions about God and God’s love I began to really ponder God’s love. I am not an expert and to be frank I don’t even believe I am really the right person to be writing about this topic–but I am going to try. Like always I am going to ask you, dear readers, to be patient with me. I have prayed for the right words for this and am just going to jump in.

You will have noticed the title of the post Agape, which is the Greek word for, as wikipedia defines: “love: the highest form of love…agape embraces a universal unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.” I have a friend from college who has this word tattooed on her wrist, I remember asking her what it meant and discovering that it was the love that God has for us all. I love the part of the definition, provided above that says, “a universal unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances.”

In the world today we love to put limits or conditions on our love. We like to have love fit into nice little boxes often labeled: acceptable and unacceptable. But that is not how love works and it is certainly not how God works. Love is the one force, the one language, the one action that has the power to cover all differences, all fears, all hatred, all darkness and to bring us closer to one another and nearer to the light. Love is without a doubt the most powerful force in this world but sadly we still turn to hatred and fear. There is a fantastic quote by Nelson Mandela that I have recently let rest upon my heart:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Hate does not come naturally to us, we are taught how to hate and how to pick out other people’s differences and see that as evil or something to fear. There has only been one time in my life that I have truly hated someone and I can assure you it is really the most unnatural thing in this world, using my heart for hatred rather than love. All hatred does and all it did was eat away at my heart, suddenly fear, anger and darkness ruled my life–the only person my hatred hurt was me.

Too often people use God as a means to justify hate, they take things out of context and use it to exclude and justify a hatred of God’s children who may think, act, look, sound, worship differently than themselves. This is something that truly breaks my heart because it simply goes against who God is and what I know about God. In my bible I have 1 John 4:7-21 marked off and labeled with a notecard. In my particular translation, the NRSV, this section is entitled: God is Love. The section begins with (verses 7-12):

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

It was not because we loved God that Jesus died for us, it is because God loved us (4:19).

The passage ends with (verses 20-21):

“Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

I did not type out the whole passage, but I urge you to go and look it up. It is one of my favorite passages and is the fundamental base that I always go back to. If I only know a little bit about God it is this: God is good, God is always the same and God is love. If we have been created in the image of God, wouldn’t that mean that our hearts were created to love rather than hate? Wouldn’t that mean that if I love God I must love all my brothers and sisters, no matter how different they may be from me?

If we talk about God’s love, agape love, we are naturally brought to one of the purest examples of it we have, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. As I took my walk today I continually dwelled on what it truly means to love like God, I thought about my Lord and Savior Jesus and how he is the example we have been given as to how to love. In Luke 23:34 we encounter Jesus hanging on the cross, in verse 34 as he hangs upon the cross he utters: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus is hanging on the cross because cruel and hateful humans wished it and in his greatest time of need many of his friends and followers abandoned him and yet; he still asks his father to forgive them, he still gave up his life so that they would have the opportunity for an everlasting one. That my brothers and sisters is agape love. That is a love without any conditions, that is a love that “serves regardless of circumstances.”

It is a beautiful thing to be reminded of how much God loves us and how much we matter to God. I still am in awe of it and there are times, like today, that I stopped and was struck by it. No matter how many times I wander away from home, my God is waiting on that front porch, waiting for me to come on home and just waiting to wrap me up in a warm embrace and cry out, “oh my baby is home, let us rejoice!” That is love and that is grace, and that is who God is.

God’s love is not conditional, thanks be to God! Lamentations 3: 22-23 reads:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never  ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Even when I am unfaithful to God, God remains faithful. I am simply amazed and so incredibly thankful that I believe in a God whose mercies are new every morning, whose love is steadfast and never failing and whose love covers us all.

I am sure I did not do this topic justice, I guess no-one really can. But simply etching out these thoughts has brought great peace and reassurance to my heart. Now let us go and keep the commandment to love our brothers and sisters. This world is in dire need of love, let it begin with us. Look around at your brothers and sisters, no matter how different they may seem, and simply remember that just as God loves you God loves them and pray that God helps you to love as she does.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and SO MUCH LOVE,

Margaret

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Walls

I am excellent at building walls. Most people would be surprised to know this since I am such an emotionally open person. But the thing is I am good at letting people only see what I want them to see, to let them in on bits and pieces of my hurt or joy. Maybe I am scared that if I let too many people see or let anyone too close the fragile bits of my heart will get crushed. In the past few months I have been awakened to the realization of how emotionally guarded I have been, particularly in the last year.

You see, I began building these incredibly impressive walls years ago. It was easier to guard my heart and claim that I was using it. It was easier, or so it seemed, to live behind these walls and have my heart safely guarded in a tower like Repunzel’s. And then they suddenly came down. It really didn’t take much. All it took was one person to really touch my heart, to reach past those walls that I thought were indestructible, and make me realize that my heart had not been functioning properly. To remind me that a heart, especially mine, does not function properly behind a wall. After years of living behind those walls I felt what I had only felt in small bursts, I felt my heart beat and truly come alive. With my walls down I was reminded of who I was created to be, how I was created to feel and I was finally able to get closer to God. I could feel God again, I could see my hand in hers and I was able to listen to the call I knew I felt in my heart.

I know most of that was in the past tense, in some ways still feeling this freedom, but it has lessened in the past few weeks. Fear has wiggled its way into my heart and tonight as I sat down to journal I realized that I had been covering up and hiding from God. I am not 100% okay right now; I am scared of the evil and hatred that I sense in this world, I am scared of transitioning back to life in the States after being away for so long and I am scared of having my walls down. After years of being “safely” hidden away and years of being socialized to think that crying and being emotional is wrong and weak–I am scared to be vulnerable. For those who know me well, I am sure you are laughing or shocked. But that is the absolute truth. With so much hatred and evil lurking, I am scared of letting my heart do what it was created to do–to love.

I have been pondering the word love a lot recently. After having my walls knocked down, left completely bare to this beautiful thing called love, I have been thinking about it in relationship to my friends, family, my God and the person who was able to get past those walls. I have read countless quotes, Bible verses, listened to numerous songs and watched loads of cheesy romance movies. I have been moved to tears and I have also cringed at the cheesiness.

I had a dear friend tell me the other day, “love is not a feeling it is an action.” I love that (pun not intended). Feelings are not always reliable, are often fleeting, and in my case they are not always rational. But we can choose to act, we can choose to love someone, and we choose to let someone love us. We are there for friends when they need to cry, we sit for hours talking and laughing via Skype because we are unable to be near one another, it is sharing something so important that it cannot wait another month till you return home, it is being there when someone really needs you, it is letting someone know you are there no matter what–no matter how messy life is. Love comes in many different forms, but it is always an action.

Recently, I have been thinking big picture, about how the world needs a lot of love. The only being that is capable of loving everyone unconditionally is God. I was reminded the other day, via one of those special FaceTime conversations, that it starts with the individuals around us. It starts by choosing to love even when it is hard and sometimes a little painful. With each person you truly let into your heart, a little more love is added into this dark hate filled world. Love is choosing to stay and not run–because easier is not always better. If we are lucky enough to get to love someone and have them love us, then we should embrace it not run from it. I think I built those walls and began holding people at an arm’s length because I was so scared of the inevitable hurt that would occur, because at some point we will hurt those we love and those who love us will hurt us–intentionally or not (we are still broken humans).

After being free from my walls I have found that loving is a bit easier, when I don’t let myself get too preoccupied with overthinking and worrying, but instead simply let myself be. I just remember my friend telling me, “you don’t think about receiving a hug–you just receive it.” Maybe that is exactly what I need to do with love, not think about it, just receive and give it.

On days that my thoughts run away from me, I will try and remember what 1 John 4:18 says about love:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear. What beautiful thoughts, and yes, my dear friends I have experienced this and it is the most incredible feeling in the world. So in the coming weeks as I prepare my heart, mind, body and soul to suddenly come close again to some of those that I love and to leave others that I love I will remember that: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)I will count my blessings for the love that has come to me, the love that I was able to give away and even for the love that has been lost. We have a choice: to love or to not–always choose to love.

If you make the choice to love or to receive love, it adds a little more light to a very dark and cold world aching for warmth.

Peace, Joy, Blessings and SO MUCH LOVE,

Margaret

 

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Welcome!

Welcome to The Versatile Girl’s new home! I hope that you will stay and explore. The blog is still a bit of a bare bones operation but I have been working to get the framework in place so that I can really begin developing my blog! I plan on having a few different sections and am looking forward to writing and creating. If you experience any problems or have any suggestions–please contact me via email: margaretfleming21@gmail.com.

If you were a subscriber to my old site, I am working on transferring all subscribers to this page so that when I update on this site you will still receive an email from me.

I hope that you like The Versatile Girl’s new home. It has taken a lot of work but has been so much fun figuring out how to bring my vision to life! Thank you to all of my friends and family who provided me with feedback and suggestion during the design phase! I am thrilled with the site, I hope y’all are too.

All are welcome.

Peace, Joy, Blessings, Kindness and SO MUCH LOVE,

Margaret