So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.
1 Cor 13:13
I’ve adopted a new phrase for my life: “Lover and a Fighter."
I tried to quit fighting a long time ago. I was bruised and battered from it; trying to fit in while trying to stand out; preaching my convictions while struggling to live them; leading by example but hiding my fears and failures. Fighting. Fighting. Fighting. In the end, I wasn’t sure what I was fighting for anymore. Do we fight for the Church? Do we fight to make everyone live the same as we do even if they hold to different beliefs? Do we fight for our rights while trying to suppress the rights of others?
I was tired. I gave up fighting. I wanted peace. Calm. Rest.
And I found it.
I stopped pushing my case to make people believe like I do. I decided to listen more and to be still once in a while. I quit striving for people’s respect and won back my own. Instead of praying for things I wanted I practiced being aware of God’s eternal presence in all things: surpassing peace. And I’m still learning.
All the while, that fighting spirit has still been active. And lately, with all that’s going on in the world, I haven’t quite known what to do with it. How do I fight? What do I fight? Is there a “who” to fight? Every which way I go someone has something to say about it; judging my engagements as holy or unfit for the Kingdom. Do I fight them? Do I engage in petty language wars? Do I respond to every attacking comment on Twitter and Instagram? Should I be swayed by the threat of an “unfollow?”
Paul wrote to a bunch of his friends in Corinth:
"For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries s as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.”
Until I know for sure who is right and who is wrong; until it is as clear as day if I should be doing anything else; until the truth is as bright as the noonday sun shining for all to see without bias or pretence or contaminated interpretations; until the day I understand everything (perhaps in the time to come), Paul said that there are three things that remain solid and true:
And love? It's the greatest of the three, and everything comes down to it.
How do I fight?
I fight my instinct to shun those I don’t understand; I fight for kindness to rule in my practices.
I fight my bias to believe what I have personally experienced and seen, and I open my heart to learn from others.
I fight my pride that insists in its own righteousness, and I fight for humility to keep my heart soft.
I fight prejudice with inclusion.
I fight fear of the “other" by excercising compassion.
I fight hate, within me and outside me, with love. And sometimes, that's a costly, counterculture engagement of my spirit.
I’m done fighting to make people like me. And I realize now that how I was living for all those years was not Gospel. I’m done fighting others by pushing my agenda, or my governments, and even those of religious institutions.
I’m committed to fighting with everything that I have for love to have the final say in my life and the lives of others. I’m not prefect at it, not by a long shot. But it’s a fight worth my attention and energy. In fact, it's the only fight worth giving my life for.
And in the end, when all is said and done, love will win.