How do they love me? Let me count the ways... Kisses and hugs, pictures and "presents", compliments, backrubs, chats, walks, bike rides.... My girls love me so much I can hardly stand it some days. Still, I love the ways they love me. The best part is that they love me in very different ways.
Nora loves me by wanting my time and attention. She will do anything to be with me. I can bring her to the grocery store and she'll just talk and help me, never asking for anything, just enjoying my company. She will tell me story after story and bask in my storytelling as well. She will come up and hug me with a quiet, "You're the best Mommy ever!" Nora loves me with sweetness and gentleness.
Maggie loves me by showering me with gifts. She draws me pictures of horses and fairies, houses and dresses. She writes me pages of stories, illustrated and bound with rugged staples. She never forgets a birthday or holiday, always picking out the most beautiful gift she can think of. She loves me by giving me things she has made. Maggie loves me with generosity.
Britta loves me by hugging and kissing and climbing on me until I can hardly stand up. She snuggles next to me on the couch while I write, climbs on my stomach in bed while I sleep and hangs on my leg while I cook dinner. She can't stand to be more than an inch away from me and would rather be in my arms than anywhere else in the world. Britta loves me with intensity.
Each of my girls shows her love for me in a different way. I could never bring Maggie to the store just to spend quality time, she'd ask for a million things and meltdown when I said no. Our quality time would turn into something far less than quality. Nora loves a good gift, but doesn't spend the time thinking about it like Maggie does. She'd rather just jump in and spend time with you than sit in her room dreaming up a gift. Britta has no time for anything other than to be touching and hugging me. Gifts, quality time, those are nice ideas, but Britta wants really obvious love. Wrapping herself around my leg is just about the right volume for her.
When I look at the way that my girls show their love for me, it occurs to me that maybe that's why there are so many different kinds of churches in the world today. We all show our love for God in a different way. Some of us bask in the presence of God while serving others. Some reach out to God through liturgy and "high church." Others bask in the presence of God while reading his word. But all of us show love for the God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier that he is.
When we bicker about the "right" way to do church, we are really fighting about how best to show our love for God. Our local church may be the best one for us, but it is not the BEST one overall. Just as I can't choose if Maggie's poems or Nora's helping hands are more loving, God doesn't say prayer is more important than Bible study. In fact, I think it's important for us to engage in a variety of spiritual disciplines in our everyday lives to grow closer to God. But I also believe that we are each attracted to a local church that is in sync with how we naturally show God the love we have for him.
Bickering between churches who "do church" differently is just another form of sibling rivalry. God has enough love for all of us. He can be happily snuggling with someone engaging in quiet time and at the same time equipping someone else to go out and serve others for him. His love is limitless and can embrace all kinds of affection. Rather than competing for God's affection, let's work together so that more and more of the world can feel his love through us.