Repetitive Love

So… Valentine’s Day.

I will be up front and say that I celebrate it. I find that any excuse to spoil my wife is a lot of fun. As we enter February, Hope’s high school ministry is asking us to engage in the process of talking to our students about love. Simple task, right? Now, I have a pretty good resume on this topic. I love my Momma and I love my wife. Both of those relationships have done more for my ability to speak to high school students on this topic than almost any other part of my life. My students in school are similarly taken by my affection for those two women. If I talk with high praise about my mother, students nod their heads in affirmation. If I brag about my wife or share funny stories about how we met, students lean in to hear them.

I contest, however, that I’ve learned more from one other source.

Knowing I would face a myriad of questions about love and romance and sex this month from our high school small group, I went to the Bible. I wanted to take another look at how Jesus loves us.Two important things for the rest of this blog post. First, being a Christian partly means acting like Christ. How do we act like him? Repeat his actions. So we look to the Bible and see how he talks to people. How does he handle adversity? Betrayal? Friendship? Questions? The lowly? The mighty? It’s all in there. We look at how he speaks and acts and we try the impossible: repeat.

Second, if you ever want to know what Jesus thinks about you, you can see it in the gospel. Instead of imagining him sitting down with Nicodemus, imagine he’s across the table from you. Zacchaeus up in the tree? You. Lady at the well? You. Then you just have to listen to what he says or how he challenges. Look at how he pursues and changes. That’s how he thinks of you and what he wants for you. It’s kind of cool.

Anyway, I started reading back through gospel of John. Here is a list of the ways that Jesus, in just ten or fifteen pages, brought love crashing down into people’s lives:

– honors John

– teaches his disciples

– goes seeking his disciples

– calls people to higher callings

– keeps the celebration going

– humbles himself

– gets angry about injustice and sin

– teaches the truth

– breaks through barriers and rules to love people, even at their worst

– redeems

– encourages people away from sin

– offers healing in word and deed

– goes out of his way to find people

– helps the weak and the lost

– earns the right to speak

– speaks with authority

– feeds the hungry

– invites people into his power

– offers life

– handles rebukes with wisdom and kindness

– doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t

– doesn’t abandon

– meets people where they are

– helps heal someone’s sight (physical and spiritual)

Wow. So that’s… a big list. This week, I read that to my high school students. It’s kind of daunting if we’re being honest about it. I told them that for relationships in their present and relationships in their future, for relationships with friends or with love interests, parents or teachers, it was still a heck of a place to start. What if love is a repetition? What if it’s looking at the Person that has loved us completely, and trying to do what he did? What if we could adopt just a few of these things into our every day conversations and interactions? What if we did that over, and over, and over again?

It makes repetitive love sound a lot more interesting than the alternative.

How I Met My Wife

So… its 2012. I do not doubt that people still met randomly. I am sure in the year 2012 someone met at the fair, or on a bus, or at the movies. My first conversation with Katie began when my Aunt Diane, for the fiftieth time that summer, suggested that I meet this “perfect girl”. Eventually? I took a very bold first step. The Facebook message…

Conversation started October 3, 2012… 10/3, 8:10pm

Hey Katie,

  • I’m sure this is kind of odd, but my aunt and Mrs. Moore have all but demanded that I message you. I’ve never been a big fan of messaging someone I dont know, especially on Facebook. But I also am really appreciative of kind gestures and I think that what my aunt is trying to do might fall in that category? As you probably already know my name is Scott and I live in the Raleigh area. I teach nearby and help out with YoungLife and a whole lot of other things that I’d rather talk about in person and ask you about in person. So I’m not sure if you really do want to hang out, or if this is just my aunt demonstrating the crazy/ridiculous side of the Martin sisters. But maybe you’re a coffee person and you’d like to sit down for coffee sometime, or tea, or sushi, or a burger… or whatever. Just let me know if you’d like to hang out sometime, I’d love to meet you.

    Scott

    As Katie and I continue to celebrate being married, it was fun to look back at the first time we spoke. Even if it was on Facebook, I still was incredibly nervous to take that first step.

    Katie eased all of my nerves with her response. She thanked me for “contacting her” and wanted to grab coffee when “time allowed.” She also called her high school girls her “heartbeat”, which had me wanting to meet her right then and there.

    This led to our first date. I first saw her on the corner outside of Cup A Joe. She made me laugh while we waited in line for coffee. We talked for two hours. She had me begging for a second date. I collapsed onto the couch that night, and told Wes Eppele, “I don’t know what just happened…”

    And then, you know, we got married and all that jazz.

10 Things I Know to Be True

Inspired by Sarah Kay’s poetry workshops, I do this little exercise to have my students brainstorm for potential writing. Here is my list for today:

1. I know that I cannot put down Pierce Brown’s Red Rising. It is the Hunger Games, but with better writing, better characters, and more intensity.

2. I spend more money on white mochas than I do on any other beverage. Shame, but man is it delicious.

3. Some of my students feel so utterly lost in life. School is the epicenter of that sensation that they “don’t belong”. 

4. There are some things I just. cant. fix. Effort and sincerity are wonderful things, but we live in a broken world, with broken systems, and broken people. Some things just don’t work.

5. But man is there something about a spring breeze in North Carolina that feels a little bit like heaven.

6. I am married to the most wonderful woman that I know. I’ve outkicked my punt coverage, I’m out of my league, I’m all the metaphors.

7. God got this music thing right. 

8. I’m not trying to say God got anything wrong, but allergies are the worst. But I guess, like Rudy Francisco says, I should be thankful that my “problems” are so small they can fit on the tip of my tongue (or in my nose).

9. I have some of the best friends a guy could ask for. 

10. I am going to be a published author. I’m going to keep going until the keys fade to dust, because I have stories to tell. 

Don’t Be the Donkey

There is a wonderful poem by G.K. Chesterton called The Donkey”. It is told from the perspective of the donkey that rides into Jerusalem. While the first three stanzas lament the donkey’s unfortunate appearance and life… the final stanza celebrates his moment in the sun. It reads:

Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:   
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.

I’ve taught this poem before, and my students always enjoy the donkey’s confusion here. He thinks the celebration for Jesus is a celebration for him. The cries of the crowd and the palms? They’re in his honor! Poor guy doesn’t know any better; he’s just a donkey. 

But what about us? How often do we interpret the cheers of the crowd as being for us? How often do we forget about the person beside us, about Jesus and the glory he deserves? I’ve recently had to apply this to my life. I’m trying to get a book published! It’s so exciting and I feel so accomplished, but you know what? God gave me the intelligence and the creativity to write it. He gave me purpose and passion, hope and a life that is filled with ideas and material. He gave me creation, with its many splendors and triumphs. What would I be without God? Apart from him, it’s all meaningless.

So over the next few months, as I try to get published, I’m trying to remember not to be the donkey. I don’t want to confuse the cheers as adding to my glory and fame. I don’t want to confuse recognition or success as something I’ve earned, or worse, something I deserve, I want to remember what I owe Jesus, and what he’s done for me. I don’t want to be the donkey.