Love Is Not A Multiple Choice Test

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At the beginning of January, I shared with you the One Word I felt I was supposed to focus on this year.  Here’s the summary I wrote then:

VALIDATE:  This year, I want to focus more attention on acknowledging others. I want to take the time to extend overflowing acceptance and appreciation. I want others to feel seen. I want others to feel heard.

I’ve participated in picking a single word focus for three years now.  It’s always interesting to me how the decisions I make and the lessons I learn throughout the year constantly circle back to my word.

This morning, it dawned on me how often I try to pick and choose where and who to love and validate.  It’s almost as if I pray.  “Lord i want to love more and validate others more.” Then, the opportunity comes up and it doesn’t necessarily excite me or capture my heart and I find myself wanting the Lord to give me another choice.  “Um, Lord,  can this  be multiple choice?   Is there something behind curtain number 2 or 3 I could pick instead?”  Okay, so I don’t say that to God…but that’s how my heart will quietly react to the choice in front of me.

I have to make two decisions this week that are not really ones I would choose. If it was completely up to me and (my all too often) selfish heart,  I’d prefer to be given different options.  And then, that’s when it happens, my one word flashes across my brain and I know what to do.  My decision becomes bigger than me and my selfish preferences.

As I was writing this post, I thought about that familiar joke of the drowning man, a sole survivor of a shipwreck, who cried out to God to be saved.  Then two different boats come by and ask the man if he needs help.  The man declines because he is waiting on God to answer his prayer and to come down and save him.  The man eventually drowns and when he arrives in heaven he asks the Almighty, ” Why did you let me die? Why didn’t you answer my prayers?” and God replies, “Dummy, I sent you two boats!”

There are times this year I’ve treated loving and validating others the same way.  The Lord puts the opportunity right in front of my face and I choose to flounder around in the waters of selfishness instead.

I love what Bob Goff said at the Storyline Conference I went to last October:  Loving and serving others isn’t a grand event, it’s being helpful and just calling it Tuesday.

Lord,  help me to understand this more fully.  Teach me to live it.

Helping others to feel seen isn’t a big production and it’s certainly not a multiple choice test either. Because the answer is simple:  All of the Above.

8 thoughts on “Love Is Not A Multiple Choice Test

  1. Chris Monahan

    Eileen,
    I don’t think you ‘pass’ on opportunities because of selfishness, but perhaps fear. I think selfishness is a choice, whereas fear is more of a reaction. Stepping beyond where we feel comfortable so often is what is needed to do what Jesus asks us to do as His followers.
    I believe you are worthy of being called a disciple because you WANT to validate. Hey, Peter didn’t always make the right choice, but God loved him nonetheless. And God knows your heart and loves YOU. I’d be willing to wager you make the wise choice much more often that not.
    Of course, strive to answer ALL the ‘questions’ God places in front of you and evaluate how you handle each of them — especially if you let one go by — BUT don’t forget to celebrate the ones you do answer (a figurative fist pump, perhaps), as I believe God does.

    And if we all could adopt Bob Goff’s idea, we WOULD do so much more good because helping — or validating — would be a part of our daily lives.
    One (very) small way I try to be ready is to keep a small stack of dollar bills in my glove box. If I encounter someone at a corner or off-ramp, I offer a few. If there’s time, I ask a name and how I can pray for that person (and do when my drive is done). Right out of Matthew 25:40 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    Blessings

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      A thoughtful comment, Chris. Thank you. While I do know that a lot of times I pass on opportunities based on fear, I really think I tend to pass on some out of selfishness. Perhaps the timing of the opportunity doesn’t fit into my schedule or look or feel the way I want it to look or feel. And, I do realize that we are all works in progress…we won’t get it right all the time. So, this post isn’t a beating myself up post but rather an acknowledgment of the fact I still struggle and there is room for improvement. 🙂 I just have this desire to have a heart that responds more often in a positive way instead of one that is looking for opportunities that look/feel the way Eileen thinks they should look or feel. 😉

      Reply
  2. Betty Draper

    I would have to agree with you Eileen, it’s selfishness on my part when I pass up on loving someone He has put in my space. Sometimes the hardest ones to love are those we are closer too, the ones who know us the best, the ones we see everyday. Good post sister and good challenge.

    Reply
  3. Rick Dawson

    “Loving and serving others isn’t a grand event, it’s being helpful and just calling it Tuesday.”

    That says how we’re supposed to be about our Father’s business perfectly – low-key, no drama, no “look at me – I’m serving God!” histrionics (which in fact point to self-serving behaviors) – and more of the same on every other day of the week, including the Sabbath.

    Thanks for this, Eileen!

    Reply

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