That intriguing question rests within U2's song, "Ordinary Love." As with so many areas of life, the area of love (one's relationship with others) is littered with neglected relationships. One or the other or both individuals took one another for granted or simply stopped tending to or fostering a relationship supported with pillars of trust, devotion, and compassion.
Some ordinary relationships are lost in the glare of extraordinary expectations.
Enjoying the Ordinary includes welcoming smile-generating surprises when they come one's way, as well as the often less-than-appreciated joys in life. Ordinary things live in plenty in the relationships of love - platonic, romantic, and divine.
I dedicate this week's blog post to the platonic relationships. I will address the other types of love in two subsequent weeks.
In order to appreciate a platonic relationship, one must learn to give attention to the less noticed gifts within the friendship. In your friendships, you can live your ordinary life to its fullest by . . .
- Offering to help your friend by listening.
- Buying your friend a coffee.
- Loaning your truck to a friend as he or she moves.
- Or, better yet, load the truck and help pack.
- Remembering to say "thank you."
- Practicing grace, aka "I forgive you."
- Speaking truth (please remember "truth in love").
Are you tough enough for ordinary love?
You answer that question, in part, by practicing acts of kindness such as these. You answer the question in part, as well, by loving your friend when he or she acts in less-than-lovable ways. In one of His most straightforward teachings, Jesus voiced to Peter this charge.
"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34b-35 (NIV)
A matter of just a few sentences later, Peter boldly declared to his Lord, "I will lay down my life for you." Peter thought he could love his teacher and friend in such an extraordinary way. As the story continues, we learn that his bold declaration proved false.
Then the story of the fallout grows rather interesting. Eight chapters later, we find Jesus loving Peter, His friend, after the less-than-bold disciple acted (through three denials) in less-than-lovable ways. We then read . . .
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21:17-19 (NIV)
Jesus explains to Peter that, sure enough, he would die; he would "lay down [his] life" for Jesus. But, first, Peter was to love in a more ordinary, and no less important, way. He was to feed Jesus' sheep.
How could a disciple not yet loving in "small" ways die with courage as a martyr? He needed to first love through ordinary ways.
Are you tough enough to love in ordinary ways?