Let Me Love You!

Last year, the ladies of Team UNL would race to the kitchen to see who would win the honor of cooking the Sunday meal for the FOCUS fam. A hospitality RACE, I tell you!

“Would you like some water, Emily?” “Would you like another green tea muffin, Joe?” “Would you like me to run to the store and get more Candy Corn for you, Megan?” “More wine, Martha?”

If someone said no, you better believe that we would hit you with our FAMOUS line.

“Let me love you!” 

And how does one respond to THAT?

“Gosh, no! Keep it! Thanks though!”

No way, Jose. You say yes. You say yes with a smile on your face and you LET your sisters and brothers love you. Right?

It was a brilliant, somewhat frustrating, but altogether beautiful act of service that allowed us to love each other beyond words. (And I took every second of it for granted.)

Now, in NYC, I find myself searching for the kitchen. Searching for a way to love the people around me, and a way to let them love me. It’s funny, in Nebraska it’s “Let me love you!” As in, I’m going to love you no matter what you say. Thus far In NYC it’s, “Let me love you?” As in, I’ll love you if you give me permission to.

At first, this really IRKED me. Since when did I need permission to love?

“I think I’m going to be your friend, is that okay?” “Can I ask if falling in love will work for you? Cause I’m cool with it.” “I think honest conversations form friendships! Do you think honest conversations form friendships?”  

No. No. No. Just let me love you, dangit! It doesn’t matter what you say! 

And then I was hit with a NEW YORK NEWS FLASH.

It does matter what you say. Love isn’t love when it’s forced. Forced love is selfish and selfish love doesn’t exist. (Yeah, that one kicked me in the gut, too.)

New York is teaching me the other side of that beautiful phrase. “Let me love you” without the option of saying ” No”, isn’t love. We must be given the choice. Love is a choice.

I cannot force anyone to let me love them, because to those who do not choose it, it becomes a burden.

How often does this happen to people when it comes to their relationship with God? We are forced to go to Catholic School. We are forced to go to CCD. We are forced to go to Sunday mass. All the while, we have no clue that Jesus is actually talking in a New York accent. And by that lame joke I mean, he is saying “Let me love you?” Question mark. God’s love, His true, unconditional love, isn’t forced upon us. He offers it freely. Of course you’re going to hate mass if you feel forced to be there. I did. But it wasn’t till I learned that our Lord was giving me the choice to choose Him, that I learned the beauty of everything he stood for. The mass became a masterpiece. (No pun intended.) It became an opportunity to watch my Lord choose ME, by sacrificing His life. It is everything that I know love to be now.

So, well played, New York. You continue to knock me down with realities that blow my mind and purify heart. I’m done demanding love.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Ask. Seek. Knock. And they might just let you love them.

artist bible study 2 (1)

“These Lights Will Inspire You”

I walk out my door and I feel like it’s a movie and every person I see is the star of their own lives. They are the main character, the lead, the protagonist, and they each have a story I could never imagine up.

I don’t feel like a main character yet.

If New York were a sappy teen movie… I would be that middle school girl at the dance who stands there watching, wishing, and waiting. (Cheesy alliteration for the win.) Oh, to relive old memories… Anyway, you don’t see her till the end when she delivers a random monologue about how much she’s learned. Then you realize she, too, was a part of it all.

We all want that… “To be a part of something”. It’s written on our hearts, for goodness sake. We were made for relationship. We were made to be a part of something far more than ourselves.

From my view, (leaning against the Paris decorated wall of the high school gym like a Nebraskan wallflower) it’s easy for people to come to New York and “dance”, so to speak. It’s easy to think “This is IT. This is clearly the more I’ve been looking for. I’ll find the love I need in the larger than life buildings, in the beyond attractive people, in the comfort of selfies, and the exciting opportunity for adventure that awaits as you open the door of a classic yellow taxi cab.”

And I think that is all beautiful, and romantic, and inspiring, don’t get me wrong. I, too, long for random taxi cab adventures. But what’s even more amazing is being in a city so tall, and having the courage to kneel down. It’s an amazing grace to be able to admit you know nothing in a place where everyone knows everything about everything.

And I feel that, bro. I have not a CLUE what’s going on. But I do know that the Lord is here with me. He is the love we need. I know He is here for all of us. Us, power walking up and down the streets of New York with a “set destination”… yet never really knowing where we’re going to end up. Sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes, it’s really hard. But He is just as much here as he is anywhere. He is with all of us. When you listen, you can hear him. When you truly look, you can see Him.

“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussing and fretting; coming in out of the wind.”
― C.S. Lewis

-You can see Him.-

2014-09-11 21.37.58 2014-08-16 10.38.34 2014-08-28 17.17.122014-09-07 14.08.242014-09-07 15.46.252014-08-23 19.56.262014-08-28 16.51.532014-08-25 08.50.162014-09-08 19.59.322014-08-19 21.02.212014-08-18 17.23.36-12014-08-25 18.26.192014-08-20 19.18.092014-08-22 16.33.43

2014-08-22 15.25.21 2014-08-17 20.42.512014-08-16 11.25.322014-08-29 14.07.53 2014-08-16 12.06.212014-08-16 18.44.55 2014-09-08 20.25.47 2014-09-08 20.08.13 2014-08-20 21.01.152014-08-16 13.48.192014-08-18 13.19.13

#loveyou

He walked into our first meeting like he owned the place. He was clearly the “big man” on campus. That “fraternity star” that I (rudely) stereotyped my entire college career.

It was the day of elections for Mortar Board Honor Society.

(The society that I never in a million yeeeeears thought I’d be accepted to… twas an act of God!)

“I think we alllllll know who should be elected Social Chair. I was Rush chair last summer, guys.” He seemed to brag.

My first thoughts?

Who IS this guy?! How did he get in here?! He’s tall and cray cray. I’ll just let him be loud over there and I’ll be quiet over here. Perhaps, I’ll give a slight introduction, pretend as if we’ll become close friends, and then we’ll both move on as distant acquaintances, who never “had the time” to sit down and invest in each other.

Ha. Thank God I’m an idiot.

As the year progressed, Brock and I, seemingly the two most opposite people in the room, grew closer. And to my surprise, this frat star quickly became one of the best friends I could have ever prayed for.

Right around the time I was diving back into my faith, Brock took notice and asked how he, himself, could find a way to grow.

And boom!

Bit by bit my walls of judgment were beginning to crash before me. I told him about FOCUS and we both began a year that would truly change our lives.

I look back and I can’t help but thank God for Brock’s true friendship and boldness during a time in my life when walking alone might very well have been too much for me. We marched together into the Catholic promise land and had NO CLUE what we were doing.

It’s so wonderful when you can share times of utter confusion with a friend. Someone would say a beautifully Catholic joke, we’d laugh as if we understood, then glance at each other as if to say, “We’ll look it up later.”

I know God placed Brock in my life to remind me that I’m never alone. No one is ever alone, not if they let God in. But we all have moments when God gifts us with a human who leads us closer to Him, just by being themselves.

Brock became like a brother to me. Truly. A best friend.

I know what you’re thinking.

MEN AND WOMEN CANNOT BE BEST FRIENDS.

And ya know, there were days when I would’ve agreed with you, no questions. But then I met Brock. Through his caring heart and genuine personality, I was introduced to a true son of God. A brother.

And now, my brother is ENGAGED! Thank you, Lord! I couldn’t be happier for him and his amazing wife to be, Kelsey! I feel so blessed to know them both. I can’t wait to watch these two ROCK marriage! God has a plan, guys! When you say yes to His will, down right beautiful things happen. TRUTH.

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.” -Sirach 6:14

553031_10151864334258298_2093301756_n