Let me start by saying that the next journal entry did not turn out anything like I first expected! I am doing my best to trust the process; what follows is just a little evidence that writing in the margins can be “a life-giving, chaos-breaking, creative conversation”.
I finally made it to “Chapter 2: Love Letters” in Writing in the Margins. The first prompt was to write in the margins key concepts gleaned from 1 Corinthians 13, the great text on love. I know this passage by heart; it pops into my mind no matter what I am facing; and it was read at my wedding. Curiously, my first thought was “Ugg! Not that passage.” And my first vision of the verse was hearts, lots and lots of hearts.
When I was in high school a youth minister suggested putting our own names into the description of love to see if the passage adequately described us. Somehow the verse took on almost a legalistic interpretation and became my answer on how to respond in all situations. “Be kind. Be patient. Don’t be irritable. Don’t insist on your own way.” And over time, not insisting on my own way made me feel a little lost. Then later the passage talks about growing up and giving up childish ways—I guess I’ve always felt the need to grow up and be serious (and most of my time is spent handling serious matters), but the truth of the matter is that I am light-hearted soul (who sill likes stickers!). Anyway, the passage took on a heavy quality for me in the past couple years. I’m not sure that was the right way to read it!!!
I read the passage and heard the quiet whisper in my heart: ”Read it again. Let God love you.” After reading it several times, I read the prior passage: how the church is one body with many members, each one important to the whole. The passage on love made more sense to me within that context, and these words found their way into the margins:
Everyone matters to God. We are each blessed in our own way to be a blessing to others. We all have gifts. What is most important is the love that inspires the giving. God is loving and kind toward us and rejoices in the truth of who we are created to be.
As I said at the beginning, I’ve read and thought about this passage countless times. Today was the first time the words “The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” jumped off the page to me. Blame it on spending too much time at my son’s karate class and seeing the Yin and Yang symbol, but not all of us are created to be rock, solid pillars of the church. Some of us are more yielding, flexible, adaptive, and responsive. Our tender, buttercup-like qualities may be perceived as weakness, and the love that is offered in our joyful bubbles may go unnoticed and unappreciated—but God notices! Instead of the hearts I expected to see in the margins, I found buttercups with the simple plea: Please don’t stomp the buttercups.
I found myself asking the question: Is there some way I can share some love in this new blogging adventure? There is already enough noise and clutter on the Internet. I want to share something that builds others up and encourages others. Is there some way I can help readers appreciate how God loves them, especially any reader drawn to the whole crazy idea of putting rainbows, hearts, and stars in the margins of the Bible?
Here’s what came to me…
Buttercups (maybe you are one or know one!), if you are opening your Bible to find a little solace, comfort, and joy in a fun and creative way, sometimes the most loving thing you can do for God and others is be true to your own way in the world. See the worth in the small ways you make life brighter: bringing flowers to cheer up a sad soul, practicing unexpected sweet acts of kindness, giving a tearful stranger a spontaneous hug, or sharing a laugh or a smile with a passer-by. If you connect easily with others and see the good in people, that’s a blessing. You are bubbly, busy, cheerful, friendly, fun-loving, funny, positive, and smiley, and the world needs more of your joyful noise! If all of the following is true, then it may also be true that you are delicate, easily crushed, and often misunderstood (and you bounce back quickly again and again and again—most people in your life don’t realize how often!). Others may not know how to take you, and just leave you alone. My prayer for you is that God will protect that special quality about you that is filled with joy. Stay effervescent always! God rejoices in your truth! You are indispensable!!!