I’m a little late for my last Advent reflection. The truth is, I didn’t know what I wanted to say about this topic at the time. I may enjoy writing, but that doesn’t mean I can always think of something to say! At first, this idea of “love all” sounded sappy to me; rainbows and ponies. It made me think I needed to be less offensive and more tolerable of whatever came my way.
However, my recent winter camp excursion showed me that loving someone isn’t sappy at all; it’s overwhelming and exhausting. At winter camp, I learned that sometimes loving someone else meant challenging them even when it upsets them. Real growth is offensive to complacency. We see this in the picture of Jesus asking Peter the third time, “Do you love me?” Sometimes, loving all meant telling someone “no” because you knew their intentions weren’t what they should be and it would be wrong to tolerate it. Again, we see a picture of this in Jesus and Peter when Jesus tells him to put his sword away after cutting off the centurion’s ear.
My own growth in loving all meant not spending all of my time with people I’m comfortable around, but getting to know new friends. It also included quieting thoughts of frustration when I was lacking sleep. Anyone who has slept on a vinyl encased foam mattress knows how difficult that can be!
Everyone encounters God differently at Bethel Youth Camp in the tiny town of Hawks, Michigan. For some, He breaks chains and for others He brings salvation. For me, He showed me that love is an action, a verb and it isn’t sappy. So, here I am, at the crossroads of my own advent. What will I learn this year? What will I study and how will I grow so that I can help others do the same?