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The Love that Spills Over

She flew south, and then she migrated home. Home to Ohio and now here—seated at the table by the window. It is so good when a friend comes home. Friends are places where the soul lands safe, and mine nestles in to hug this missed missionary.

We talk about the hard things over plates full of food, cups full of coffee. The sharp edges of the topics are smoothed, sanded by the understanding ears they fall on. We talk about rejection. When we feel forced out of a picture unjustly. When it feels hard to love.

Love: this word that has been a question mark in my mind lately, punctuating my thoughts. I wonder, ask aloud, “What does it mean that love believes all things, hopes all things?”

And I’m really asking—asking in expectation of an answer, because it’s my heart that’s been wondering, needing to know. Even as the words leave my mouth, I know it’s my scars that are talking. The places where wrongs have cut the skin, drawn the blood, left the permanent mark. So we chew this question through, forking food around plate.

She sits, wondering with me. And then she proffers this profound explanation: that maybe hope is a great part of belief. And that maybe it’s more God-centered than anything else. Maybe it’s believing that God can do anything in anyone’s heart . . . and that maybe He will in this person’s life.

And love becomes a period, instead of a question mark. A declarative statement full of hope and surety. I nod, just sitting there, eyes roving the room, this answer sitting well with my soul, satisfying.

My mind muses it over. The scars, the wounds, create instinctual desires to distrust those who have hurt us; it’s our shielding protection, self-defense. And so often it feels that loving someone who has hurt me will bear my bruises in the open—only to be beat again.

But there is amazing freedom and power in believing that this One can change anyone.

Because here’s the truth I know in my heart: I am crazy blessed that God chooses to love and forgive me. That He’s chosen this after times when I’ve ignored Him; times when my heart has fisted against His will; times when my face has looked clean away from the cross, the holes in the hands, the life lost, risen again. He sees the heart. He sees the sick in need of a Physician. And His love covers a multitude of sins.

Sweet, sweet soul truth. Truth that heals our hearts and grows our love.

And this is why we believe that God can clean the messiest of hearts (even when the world washes the hands clean of those who hurt them, rinsing them dry). He has cleaned, and is cleaning still, our own hearts. One lift of the curtain into the darkness of our hearts sinks this truth deep. So we know that we can “comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted.” With the love with which we have been loved. With the forgiveness, with the care . . .

And if they don’t change? If the hearts of those who hurt us never break open to God? Then we still have this unwavering joy in Him, the One in control. Because our joy—and our love—is not dependent on their change.

This is where joy grabs hold of our lives and runs free and fast. Joy that is steadfastly found in the Faithful Father.

So break the boundaries of our hearts, Faithful One; help us believe all, hope all . . . love all.


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