"The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." - Pope Benedict XVI
Over the past year, I've developed a deep connection with the great Joan of Arc. I mean talk about being made for greatness! She was 13 years old when she received a message from God, telling this little peasant girl that He wanted her to drive out the English from France and deliver the Dauphin (the heir to France’s throne) to the city of Rheims for his coronation. This was a totally unthinkable act, even for a skilled military man, let alone little Joan! But Joan responded, "Although I would have rather remained spinning wool at my mother's side, I must go and do this, for my Lord wills that I do this." So, out of love for God and country, she went.
Now, most of us aren't going to receive a message from God asking us to lead armies and fight battles. Rather, the Lord is coming to us and speaking quietly to our hearts. He says, "Go and be my love; go fight for love."
When love feels good, it’s easy to do. When you're affirmed that the person you are loving returns that love, it's easy to do. When you're in a good mood, it's easy to do. But what about those times when it doesn't feel good, or when it's not your favorite person, or when you're just having a bad day? Those days, love actually becomes more important. It's on those days that we grow the most.
When you love someone, you make yourself vulnerable; you put yourself in a situation where you might be rejected. It's uncomfortable. But like I said before, this is when it's most important. It's like getting out of a warm bed on a cold winter morning. It's so much easier to just snuggle down under the covers and stay warm, but if you don't face the discomfort of the cold, you can't ever move forward with your day.
Okay, it's important to love despite the discomfort, but how do you do it? The answer is super simple: God's grace. But how do we get God's grace? We have to ask for it.
Francis de Sales developed a three-step method to help people pray throughout the day. I use it as a way to invite the Lord into situations where loving is uncomfortable. I ask Him to be present during times when I need an extra shot of grace to get through.
1. ASK - Ask God to be present to you, and in return, be present to Him. Ask Him for the grace to love as He loved you from the cross.
2. OFFER - Offer the person, moment, or situation to the Lord. He loves more than you ever can; He wants to help you!
3. ACCEPT - Ask the Lord for the grace to accept whatever comes out of the situation. Whether that is rejection, indifference, or something positive. Root yourself in the Lord, ask for the grace to be receive what He wants to give you.
This isn't a magic formula to make loving easy and fun all the time. Love still takes work; it's often still uncomfortable. But the more we practice, the more we ask for the grace from the One who is LOVE, the more we can grow and learn to be okay with the discomfort of loving.
Challenge to Action: It's not easy to choose to be love when it makes us uncomfortable. Ask the Lord each morning to show you who you need to love that day. Use the "Ask, Offer, Accept" method to help you love those people who might be hardest to love. This is hard, but be willing to be uncomfortable. You were made for greatness!