Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Real Love



A few weeks ago, in the thick of thinking and praying about my talk at Hope Spoken, I was smacked in the face with this verse. Isn't this what it's all about? Really loving people. Not pretending.

I get tripped up now and then by my love (or lack thereof) for the people at the edges of my life. Sometimes it's hard to help them. Sometimes I want to say no, and people delight in telling me I should be better at saying no. I should protect myself, my family, my sanity. My response to that: These people are my family. 

Still, I find myself pretending sometimes. I find myself going through the motions, then doubting myself, wishing I were above it all. 

I had no idea how this verse would tie into my talk, or if it even would, but I sent an SOS text to my friend Katy, and she made this print just for me and my session ladies. I gave her nothing but the verse, and she did this. I love that she created it in black and white, because isn't that mostly what real love is? The love I want for my family/my neighbor/my people is black and white. It either exists, or it doesn't.

~

Leading up to my trip, I was angsty. I wasn't sure how to spend my 30 minutes. I struggled to focus on what mattered most. I'm always afraid I'll come across as judgmental or pushy or proud. But I believe in the beauty of living small. I believe God invites us into his story when he'd do just fine without us. He uses us in our lack. He uses our low places to bring himself fame. It's never about us.

While I stewed around, God began speaking. Satan began attacking. It was hard to imagine the enemy was concerned about what I would have to say in Dallas. I didn't even know what I'd be saying or how my words would fall in the room.

And on top of all this, I signed up to be a small group leader. I said yes because it seemed pretty crappy to say no. My heart wasn't super in it. I worried my loyalties would be divided, or that I wouldn't get enough time with my friends, the ones I'd waited years to meet.

~

The first night we met, I was jangled edges and keyed-up nerves. The circle was wide and ten sets of eyes looked back at me as though I should know something, as though I could lead them. I prayed, asking our hands to be opened, that the weekend be all God's, to do with as he chose.

I loved them almost immediately.

And as the hours and days went on, in an atmosphere dripping grace and truth, I felt a pull to them and a handful of others, people who had been strangers to me just one day before.  I had wonderful moments with some of my closest internet friends. They were graciously aware of my packed schedule and having too much fun to worry about me. But over and over, I was drawn to these new faces and their honest, breaking hearts. 

Each time we met, our circled closed in. Each time we met, our words were stripped bare.

We are hurting people. We're broken and doubting. We're in pain. We're lost in our churches, where no one knows how to deal. We're lost in the world, where we're expected to be something we can never accomplish.

This is why we need each other. 
This is why I loved my time at Hope Spoken and I loved my lady friends.
I wasn't there for them. I was there because I needed them.

They trusted me with their pain, and I trusted them back.
They didn't care who I was, what I do or how many people are watching me.

~

I'm left believing that sometimes, we can't wait for our emotions to catch up with our jobs. I have to think it's okay when our humanity balks and we err on the side of obedience. We're not naturally good at loving well. Reminders of this serve a real purpose. This is why we need Jesus.

He rights our wrongs as the circle closes in.
We're connected by so many things, but pain and failure top the list.
They reel us in, wrap us up.
We share our hurts and we're healed.

We have got to get better at getting real, guys. We have to do better than making everyone else in the room secretly believe they're alone in their mess.

We have to get better at being human together.

This is what is good.
This is how we stop pretending.
This is how we really love.


*You can order your Really Love Them print right here.

36 comments:

  1. I am a big fan of loving people just as they are : ).
    Come one, come all.
    Love is shared here.

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  2. Love hearing about your time there! Xoxo

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  3. YOU are amazing. I'm waiting very impatiently for those recordings because you know - I still haven't heard the whole story about Robert, and I'm so dying to. I wish we lived closer so we could hang out in real life. xoxo

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  4. Aaahhh!!!!! I loved loved loved being in your small group - thank you for trusting us with your story. Thank you for leading us in a place where we could be honest and real and broken. Love you Shannan!!!

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  5. Thank you for teaching me to love people - REALLY love them. (and Katy did an awesome job!!)

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  6. Thank you!! I'm so grateful for how God orchestrated the small group. So. So. Grateful. Thank you again for your honesty-it has blessed me more than you know.

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  7. wish i could have heard you speak. xoxo.

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  8. Hey girl, I loved every single bit of this. There's such a richness here. Which . . . leads me to do what I've felt a niggling to do for quite awhile. To share a vision with you that God has charged me with of a magazine that reflects real life, as it is. I have the vision spelled out and would love to send it to you . . . I'll Tweet you for your email address.

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  9. I am always blown away at how God connects people. It's such a beautiful thing to see Him work in a room full of strangers that aren't really strangers after all! Sounds like an amazing weekend <3 love the print!!

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  10. I want to be better about loving when it is NOT convenient to my schedule! I hate that pause in my spirit that has to weigh in!

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  11. "We have to do better than making everyone else in the room secretly believe they're alone in their mess." This to me is the key to everything. We all guard our hurts and flaws and pain as though they are state secrets. We're all so fearful of being judged, found wanting, not being loved.
    Thank you as always for your honesty and making me THINK!

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  12. Thank you! Thank you! Your words have once again reverberated in my heart! Your writing is a real GIFT.

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  13. Hey new friend. I just wanted to tell you that your talk spoke to me at HS. I'm about to begin blogging all my lessons learned, and the one the Holy Spirit spoke through you is first on my list. I should have the post up soon. So thankful to have met you and I hope our paths cross again someday. Don't know if I remembered to tell you, but my friend Megan Modderman told me to seek you out and thought we'd be quick friends. :) I think she's right. I admire you. - Leslie

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  14. I don't think I told you this, but when I first considered going to HS-I looked up the speakers, read your blog and knew instantly-I needed to go, if only to hear you. He used you before I even went. Thank you for encouraging me and reminding me to "run to the brokenness." And of course-the ugly cry. Your talk impacted me more than you'll ever know.

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  15. you're good people shannan, you're good people
    i wish like crazy i was there to cheer you on & soak up your words. even if only 30 minutes of them!

    xo

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  16. I just came across your blog through Leslie Padgett and I just love everything about it! You made me giggle and tear up and then giggle some more. I've only hear amazing things from the Hope Spoken conference and so hope that I can make it next year. My husband and I blog over at courageouslove.net and I have connected with Leslie through email. I just love the blogging community and so appreciate you sharing your life and story for others to read!

    xoxo, autumn // courageouslove.net

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  17. Love this! So very often we feel as though we can't be real because of the judgement that we will endure. But Jesus says come all poor and needy and I will give you rest- how encouraging! That we, as the body, can share our hearts because each of us are broken. Thank you for touching a subject that is often hushed and overlooked!

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  18. when i realized over the weekend that you and shauna niequist were both there at hope spoken, my heart sank.
    sick that i wasn't there and didn't hug your neck and hear your words.

    "He rights our wrongs as the circle closes in.
    We're connected by so many things, but pain and failure top the list.
    They reel us in, wrap us up.
    We share our hurts and we're healed."

    yes.



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    Replies
    1. Your name was mentioned by more than just me on the "missed" list. xo

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  19. Wanted to let you know that I love your blog. Thank you for sharing your life. Your honesty and transparency ministered to my spirit.

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  20. Your words speak to so many people. What a treat it must have been to hear you in person.

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  21. "I'm left believing that sometimes, we can't wait for our emotions to catch up with our jobs."
    Amen.
    This is where I have been for months. I am trying to be obedient and seek Christ but I just feel kind of numb.
    I'm glad Hope Spoken went so well! I was sad to have missed it!!
    Thanks for being who God created you to be.
    *Kels

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  22. Oh I hope this is only post two of many. I could have read more and more. It's so true. I think woman struggle with showing the real, raw side of life. It's not always a huge mess but when it is we'd rather smile than cry. We would rather talk about how great the other things are than say, guys, this is hard. I'm all about looking at the bright side of things. But we also need to slow down and say we all struggle. We all get this overwhelmed feeling. It's okay. Thank you sooo much for keeping it real.

    Sara

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  23. oh how you share real, shannan. beautiful post.

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  24. Just read Jen Hatmakers post earlier and now this - God is bombarding me with what real love looks like and I'm convicted that I need to live it more, and humbled by how often it's been given to me.

    Another beautiful heart post.
    Wish I could have joined that circle last week. : )

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    1. Lady, you would have been a most welcomed edition to the circle.

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  25. I'm new to your blog, and just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed this post. It came at a perfect time for me!

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  26. Shannan-- this is one of your best posts (and I've read so many of them!!). I know I'm good at pretending to love people. and this really brought me up short. So much to think about after reading this. We're in some difficult days of loving around my house. I'm old enough to be your mom, but you've taught me so much over the last few months... thank you.

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  27. Hi Shannan - I didn't go to Hope Spoken and didn't even know about until it happened {sounds right up my alley}, but we have some mutual blog friends, so here I am to say hello and to read your heart this morning. Here's where a loud AMEN rose up in me as I read your words: "We have got to get better at getting real, guys. We have to do better than making everyone else in the room secretly believe they're alone in their mess." Yes to that, sister! I wrote a crazy brave and messy post yesterday for that very reason...but it vanished just after I finished it. The enemy hates our attempts to step out of our loneliness and move toward one another in vulnerability, but we'll be brave and keep fighting for life together! Blessings to you today!

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  28. i REALLY love you, dear shannan girl...

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