Two weekends ago, I taught and led a weekend retreat for the beloved, holy mess that is my spiritual home. The verses that wrapped our time were these, quoted here from The Message, Romans 12:9-19:
9-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
17-19Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
There are quite a few lines that resonate here, for me and for those I journey alongside. But the first one still catches me up short, causes me to think, to breathe, to remember myself and my God.
"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it."
How many of us fake it on a regular basis? Pretend in order to get someone to like us, or, alternately, pretend to like someone else in order to feel better about ourselves?
Loving from the center means finding that center and not just loving from there, but living there. That's a journey that only God can take me on, take you on. That center won't hold (apologies to Yeats) if we look for it anywhere else. We'll find ourselves spinning off, pulled by gravities that suck us toward orbits of insecurity, worthlessness and loneliness. It's in finding who is in the center of ourselves that we find who we are, and begin to live from that place truly, whole-heartedly.
I wonder what it would look like if, each day, we let go of the faking it a little more and received the gift of being ourselves just a little more fully.
What would it look like if you, if I, loved from the center of who we are just a little more tomorrow?