…That Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, The Message)
So often I find myself dragging through my days. Sometimes it feels like slogging through wet cement. Sitting through yet-another ISP meeting for Joel, my adult son with autism…wading through yearly guardianship paperwork and required on-line classes…struggling to remain cheerful through another stressful blood draw…listening to the tenth voice mail in one day—each one saying the very same thing—from my mother, who has dementia.
How, I ask God, do I soak in the extravagant love of Jesus when I’m up to my neck in the mud and the mire?
Look at the photo sitting on the desk in front of you, God whispers. Meditate on Joel’s unconditional love for you. Joel can show you what my love is like.
The photo was taken at church several years ago by a young woman sitting behind us. In it, Joel’s hand is wrapped around his dad’s neck. He is looking intently into his father’s eyes, his gaze unwavering.
I close my eyes and let myself experience the way Joel pulled myface close and looked directly into myeyes. It was just this past Sunday. Re-experiencing that moment in my memory, I know that I am seen; that I am known; that I am loved, unconditionally. It doesn’t matter that I woke up tired and grumpy that morning, or that I spoke impatiently as we got ready for church.
I am who I am, imperfect, and Joel loves me just the same.
And so it is with Jesus.
I shift the picture in my mind, imagining myself sitting face-to-face with Jesus. He puts his arm around me and tilts my face towards his. He looks into my eyes and smiles, delighted with who he sees. No words are necessary. It is all there in his gaze.
Kathy, I love you. I’ve known you forever, even when you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye and a yearning in your mother’s heart. I’ve known you since the day of your conception, during those months when you were being formed in your mother’s womb, and through all the years of your journey on this earth. I love what I see! I love your be-ing, not your do-ing! I know you sometimes struggle with your roles as wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend. I hear your sighs of not-enoughness.
His eyes probe even deeper into mine.
Hear me. You are enough. At this very moment, you are perfect in my sight. Yes, I know your shortcomings, but I see you unfolding, like a beautiful flower. I delight in YOU, just as you are. You are imperfectly perfect, like an old-fashioned rose, disheveled yet fragrant with scent.
To know and be known. To be loved, accepted, cherished for who you are and who you’re becoming, not for what you do or accomplish.
This is the indescribable, over-flowing, boundless, amazing. incredible, lavish, unconditional, unfailing, wondrous, abundant and extravagant love of Jesus.
Questions to ponder: What, or who, reminds you of the extravagant love of Jesus? Take a few minutes today to sit and meditate on that love, a love that says you are more than enough.
Kathleen Bolduc is the author of The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities and Autism & Alleluias. A spiritual director who often works with mothers of children with special needs, she is also the founder, with her husband, of Cloudland, a contemplative retreat center outside of Oxford, Ohio. You can contact her through her website, www.kathleenbolduc.com