I Want To Do Love Right


The older I get, the less concerned I am with getting many things right.

Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with age or maybe it’s just battle fatigue from too many years logged in the fight, but lots of stuff that used to matter greatly to me has simply lost its appeal and relinquished its luster.

These days I don’t care much for having an iron-clad theology or an airtight apologetic or a sanitized public persona or a perfect family image. I don’t crave prestige or renown or success or popularity or money, or many of things I grew-up believing were the point of this life. 

Now I only care about getting one thing right.

In a fairly well-known portion of his letter to the Christian community in Corinth, Paul their pastor, writes:

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  1 Cor 13:1

In plain words what I hear Paul saying is, “It doesn’t matter how much I get right in this life. If I haven’t really loved well I’ve gotten the rightest thing wrong. I’ve compromised my testimony, squandered my time, and wasted the trip.”

I simply refuse to waste what’s left of my trip.

And so my agenda now is fairly simple: I want my presence on the planet to result in less pain, less inequality, less poverty, less suffering, less damage for those sharing it with me. I want the sum total of my efforts to yield more compassion, more decency, more laughter, more justice, and more goodness than before I showed up. That’s it.

In other words: I just want to do Love right.

This is my prayer and purpose and calling. It is the only non-negotiable for my days left here. As a Christian, Love is the only acceptable legacy I care to leave the world; not Love covered in doctrine, not Love couched in religion, not Love loaded down with caveats and conditions and explanations; just the beautifully potent thing itself, distilled down to its essence and delivered directly to people as honestly and purely as I can.

And let’s not kid ourselves, most people know when they’re really being loved and when they been handed a lousy imitation with the same name—especially when it comes to religious people. I’ve come to believe that if someone’s color, gender, religion, ethnicity, nation of origin, or sexual orientation keeps you from fully loving them, you’re probably doing Love wrong.

Sadly I see so many people of faith expending all their time and energy trying to be right in all the wrong things. They labor and strain for a foolproof theology, a proper religion, a political position, a respectable family image, a certain standing in the community. They want to win arguments and claim high ground and throw shade and pass judgment because those things make them feel quite morally right—and that’s an easy high to chase.

And yet to many people outside of the faith, we Christians have more and more become clanging cymbals, making a loud and loveless noise in their ears all the while talking  just like angels.

I have no interest in loudly living such a disconnect. As best I can I am divorcing myself from words as my primary language. I want my very life itself to speak with the greatest clarity.

And so my most fervent prayer these days is simply this:

Dear God, I really don’t care about anything else today.

Just help me do Love right.



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77 thoughts on “I Want To Do Love Right

  1. I am being honest that I believe in the meaning behind what John wrote. But I wouldn’t be being honest if I said I always understand what it means to “love right”. As a parent and a friend and a man who is trying to love God and love my neighbor, I don’t honestly always know what the loving thing to say or do is. If someone is making bad decisions that seems to be hurting their life, but don’t ask for my advice, do I just say I support and love you, or do I offer my wisdom/advice to the best of my ability. It’s not an easy thing to love as any parent knows. I know there are times when tough love is demanded and needed, but don’t always know when I should get tough, or maybe I do, and don’t have the stomach for it. I wish there were a written map/guide on how to “love right” but there isn’t. We have to listen to our heart, and our hearts are not always in the right place, I know mine isn’t. I pray for wisdom, but feel I lack it most of the time. I guess the best I can do is TRY to “love right” knowing full well I won’t get it right all the time, and trust God to let me know those moments when I don’t, and forgive me, and strengthen/guide me to maybe get them right the next time.

  2. Hopefully it is not just a Christian thing but a human thing. I think as a Jew, I will make this my daily prayer too. Thank you so much.

    • Liz, I feel this is a human thing as love is not defined or limited by race or religion. We are Love. Most of us have forgotten we were created out of Love, just like the rest of creation. Our gift to do love right comes when we are connected to our divinity…there is no fear or malice in that space. It is not always easy to reach within to our true nature although it is worthwhile.

  3. Pingback: One thing Christians can do right | Turtle's Travels

  4. I agree that love should be the most important guiding principle in all we do, especially with the faith. And I don’t think we should narrow our faith or live to obsessive detail. But not everyone’s view or action of love is as pure or “correct” as the guy writing the article (or most Christians). Some people have a distorted idea of love, and if we went by that principle of letting everyone decide what they think to be “best” or “loving”{relativism} there could be major problems. Therefore, there has to be some guidance or principle that guides the loving choice, mostly in non-obvious, difficult situations.

  5. With respect to Dover’s comments on brutal honesty: I’ve never found it works well as a way of enabling people to listen and change – not from traditionalists and not from progressives either.

    When people feel personally attacked, they withdraw and throw up the barricades. They don’t engage with the things the other person wants to say, because they’re not feeling as if that person is their friend, or genuinely has their best interest at heart.

    There’s no point saying, “Well, I said it. It’s not my fault if they didn’t listen,” if the way you said it was calculated (or at least, could reliably be predicted) to make them close their ears before you’ve said two words. It’s not “They don’t want to listen to the truth”; it’s “They don’t want to listen to anything said in that way”.

    And Ren’s reaction to Dover is an example of just that.

    She didn’t read everything he wrote. And I’m not surprised.

    And she rejected a hug from him. And I’m not surprised. Because she didn’t feel loved by him.

    It wouldn’t matter whether every word he said was 100% true. It didn’t get in, because it was phrased as an attack, and it was received as an attack. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…”

    When you love someone, you have their best interests at heart. And if you have someone’s best interests at heart, you don’t tell them the truth in a way that will make it bounce straight off, and then congratulate yourself for the fact that you told them, and if they didn’t listen, it’s not your fault. Because in quite a lot of cases, that’s exactly what it is.

    Christians who disagree with you are your family. For that matter, non-Christians who disagree with you are your family too. If someone believes you truly love them, they will hear you out even if they don’t alter their actual opinion one iota. If they don’t believe it, they won’t even let your words into their minds.

    Which is one reason why Love *does* need to be done right.

  6. This entry just came up on my facebook page and then took me here. It is beautiful, and perhaps in age… or wisdom… or experience… or renewed revelation in the heart we come back to this. How timely in the midst of the election, and reminds me of Elizabeth’s Gilberts words post election….

    “Nothing is more comfortable and soothing than dividing the world into good and evil. It’s tidy. It would be easier. ….Loving everybody cannot be something you wait to do until everybody is lovable. No. These great teachers of peace had the stubbornness and the grace and the endurance and the essential faith to say, “I will practice my compassion toward you EVEN NOW, right here in the inferno. Right here. Right in this broken moment. Because you are still my brother, and thus I cannot throw you away… ….because I am still aware of your humanity…even as you have dismissed my humanity I cannot throw you away. This is where it counts. You can hold space in your heart for another person’s heart, even as you lobby against them. This is what is hard right now. But right now is where it counts.”

  7. …BTW keep looking in the mail for that invitation to the GOP convention next summer because except for Boehner there won't be any people of co.oalthrts because 90% of blacks are still living on the democratic plantation and they will do has told.

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  9. John – beautiful and inspiring! I am moved by so many things your write – thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom.

    I would like to connect with you about a specific question by email or phone, but I haven’t been able to find your contact information. Could you send me your contacts at the email listed below? I won’t take too much of your time, but would truly appreciate a brief chat or email exchange.

    Thanks much!

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