August 7, 2020
Loving Beyond Labels
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"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." John 13:34 (ESV)
Growing up, I switched schools several times, so starting over was a normal part of life for me. The thing I never got used to was trying to make new friends.
While I might've been noticed and labeled as "Lynn, the new girl" the first time it happened, that's where the acceptance ended. The girls I went to school with saw me as that label, not "Lynn."
I felt invisible.
And then as spring gave way to summer, and the sweltering heat rolled in, a moving truck pulled into my neighborhood and parked across the street. I saw a couple of girls my age pop out of the truck.
I couldn't believe my eyes! For the first time since moving into this neighborhood, there were girls who would be my new neighbors! I decided I would no longer be "Lynn, the new girl." I would be "Lynn," and I would be their first friend.
Marching up to my bedroom, I pulled out my orange- and white-striped shirt, the one with "LYNN" screen-printed in bold, block letters. Slipping it over my head, I bravely made my way across the street, practicing exactly what I would say. After I rang the doorbell, a heavy door opened, and I boldly proclaimed to the girl who answered the door, "Hi, I'm Lynn." (How creative!)
That summer, I offered to these new friends who moved to our town exactly what I wish I had when I began my new school and attended our new church: acceptance.
Looking back, I've learned a big lesson from that brave little girl in her "LYNN" shirt. She taught me I might be a little too comfortable now and that other people with labels need to be loved and accepted for who they are, too.
Jesus modeled this best and without fail. He showed us how to love others without any conditions based on the labels the world gives. By leaving the comfort of His home, His family and His neighborhood, He demonstrated what it means to truly love. The same way He unconditionally loves and cherishes us, we are to love and cherish others.
Today's key verse says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).
Loving others is easy when they fit into our comfort zone.
But what about when that's not the case? When it requires us to step out of our comfort zone? Then it's harder.
But the truth is, every girl, every woman -
no matter where she's from,
no matter her skin color,
no matter her label,
no matter how different she is from me
- needs and deserves to know that as God's creation, she's loved and cherished. There is not one condition behind that truth.
But friends, there's more to our assignment. We can't just talk the talk; we've got to walk the walk. Let's not just tell our neighbor we love her; let's live it out and show we love her.
Let's do what Jesus did when He came to earth. Let's go into homes. Share meals. Listen to one another. Pray together. Make T-shirts that spell our names in big, bold letters (OK, maybe not that, but I had to throw that idea in there).
This starts in the heart and in the home. Our children need to know that because they're unconditionally loved and cherished, they can love and cherish others, too.
Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me unconditionally. Thank You for being a friend who listens to me and never leaves me. Help me be the same friend to others, unconditionally. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." (NIV)
Hey moms, teachers and mentors! Lynn Cowell's new devotional for tweens, Loved & Cherished, is now available for pre-order. This book includes 100 devotions written specifically to tween girls to help them understand God's unconditional, deep love for them.
Lynn fully believes if a girl understands God's love for her at a young age, she'll be able to love others the same. And now that school is starting back, this is the perfect devotional to share with a tween girl as she steps back into a world full of labels. Click here to order a copy (or three or four!) for the tween girls in your life. Pre-order your copy today, and receive special freebies offered to you by author Lynn Cowell.
Join Lynn on her Instagram today at 12 p.m. EST for Live 30 Minutes with a Family Counselor. As the authors of Loved & Cherished, Lynn and professional counselor Michelle Nietert will be covering questions about development in young girls, how to cultivate their self-esteem and faith and so much more.
There will be a giveaway of Loved & Cherished as well! See you then!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you at least one person you know, but need to get to know better. What will you do to reach out to her this week to show her you love and cherish her?
In the comments below, simply write "I'm in!" Let's commit to reaching our community with the love of Jesus this week.
© 2020 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.