April Stewardship Corner: Loving Simply

We’ve heard it many times in worship and Sunday school—”Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44) We know these words well. But doing it is not very simple. Or is it?

“Each of us is defined as much by who our enemies are and how we treat them as by who and what we love” (Krista Tippett, On Being: Love Your Enemies? (Really?)).

Who are our enemies? The annoying co-worker, the disappointing family member, the neighbor with the incessantly barking dog? The bully, the murderer, the terrorist? Low self-worth, suffering, death?

There is power in our response to our enemies. Our energy can be spent on obsessing with negative thoughts, anger, and hatred—continuing the destructive power. Or our energy can be spent on reconciliation and love—using our power to make a positive change. Remember to practice prayer and silence (previously discussed living simply characteristics). Then consider adding in the following practices to help follow Jesus’ commands to love one another. After all, if I love my enemy, is he still my enemy??

Be Mindful
As we learned at a One Night Only last fall, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Control your impulsive reactions, listen fully, and digest the whole situation. Think and plan your response in light of your Christian beliefs—what would Jesus do?

Practice Lovingkindness
Lovingkindness is a generosity that starts with self. Be kind to yourself, love yourself, take care of yourself, and create a sense of inner abundance. If I feel depleted, exhausted, and burnt out; I’m not going to have the wherewithal or resourcefulness to care about anybody, or even notice them. If I feel inner abundance, I can see others and connect with them and love them. A lovingkindness practice is shared below this article.

Change the Channel
This means literally, if you’re tuned in to the media! Whatever is feeding your anger, your animosity—change the channel to something that feeds your kindness and understanding. Turn off the news. Leave social media for a while. Listen to your favorite music. Play with your children and grandchildren.

Look For the Good in Others
It’s easy to see others’ faults. But even your worst enemy has good points. Really! What are they? Start there. Then seek to understand the ‘why’ behind the behavior that is disagreeable to you—talk to them about it. Try to relate to their position and circumstances. You may find empathy and common ground.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We can make a difference with our love. Through our choices. Through our actions. Through how we speak to one another. We just need to try, simply.

A Lovingkindness Practice
Find a comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes (if it will help you focus) and relax all your muscles. Still your mind and breathe deeply. Say aloud slowly, pausing between each sentence:

May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be happy. May I be at peace. Repeat.
Relax and breathe deeply. Think of someone you love dearly. Say aloud with that person in
May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be at peace. Repeat.
Relax and breathe deeply. Think of someone you consider an enemy. Say aloud with that
person in mind:
May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be at peace. Repeat.

Submitted by Kathy Bannon