Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Let Love be your Mango: Moving From Survivor to Disciple

Sometimes the way we live in our “survival season” becomes the way we live.

You know what I mean when I say survival season? Those times we just want to get through? Where we do what we need to do “for now” until things get better? The times when we’ve lost a job, or we are especially busy, or we’ve just moved to a new city, or maybe there’s been a loss or heartbreak. It’s those times when we feel more insecure or disconnected.

I knew that season was coming when I moved to Chicago nine months ago. I expected it. I knew I just needed to get through it. Then things would be better.

But survival mode often means we lean into those things that tend to give a sense of control and security—achievement, aloofness, avoidance, arrogance, addiction, alliteration (apparently), etc. We can become more guarded and focused on ourselves and our needs.

Then, before we know it, living like this “for now” becomes a way of life. 
It becomes the way you live.
And the way you love.

The other day my colleague did an object lesson with the college students we work with. It was one I've done many times before—the one where you try to fit a lot of different size objects into a container. The only way it fits is to put the largest object (a mango, in our case) in first, then the second largest to the smallest.  He asked students... What drives you? How do you make decisions about how to spend your time? Your money? What to pursue? What is priority? What makes everything else make sense? What is your mango?

I started thinking about the answer for myself.

I wanted my answer to be love.



Guaranteed Outcomes.

Love doesn't fit.

It hit me hard.

This is not the life I am called to. This is not the life I want to live. This is not the life of a disciple. The life of a disciple is one of risk and tension and sacrifice and vulnerability. And joy and purpose and fruit. Survival is not life to the fullest.

I want to live a life of radical love. A life on mission where Christ is made known. But this kind of life is not compatible with survival mode. This kind of life requires freedom.

And freedom is found by letting go of control and security and guarantees. It is found when we open our eyes and look around at others, not just at ourselves. Look around at what God is doing. It means our time is not our own... our money, our space.

With this, a lot of fear comes up. Fear of messiness. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of discomfort. Love gets messy.

I recently listened to this TED talk about the importance of vulnerability. I can relate so well…

I want to love well. I want to be vulnerable. I want love to be my mango. But fear get's in the way.

Is love your mango? If not, what gets in the way? How can we switch from guarded survival mode to live lives free to love?

  • Repent. We have to sit with our sin and confess it. And grieve it... I haven’t loved well. I have hidden and run from God and the life He has called me to live. 
  • Surrender. Give up the fear and control. Embrace the messiness. Daily. Recognize there is something better that is worth the forfeit.
  • Be loved. We will never be free to love if we are guarded and looking to others to give us our value and worth.  We need to believe and abide in the truth that we are loved by God, have a purpose, and have something good to offer. "Believe that what makes me vulnerable makes me beautiful."
  • Pray. Ask God open our eyes to see those around us, to see His Kingdom, and to be able to love as He loves.
  • Love. Go. Do. Get into people’s lives. Meet people. Invite people. Pray with people. Serve people. Give to people. Share meals. Know and be known.