Rae Dunn Love Plaque
A few days ago I was in my study, eating an ice cream bar (Weight Watchers, mind you. The pandemic pounds are coming off, people!). I was looking at a heart-shaped plaque hanging on the wall above my desk. It’s a dusty pink color and says “love” in Rae Dunn’s classic lettering. Love, I thought. Love what? Why did I pick out this piece of wall art at Marshall’s and hang it up in a place where I would see it all the time? What exactly is the point of looking up and seeing the heart there?
Emma always teases me about being a Rae Dunn fan girl (notice I didn’t say “addict” or “dunn hunter”. For those who get it, you get it.). When we go to Home Goods she says things like, “Look, this piece says ‘kitchen’. We should get it just in case we are lost and can’t find it.” or “I’m so glad this plate says ‘plate’ because how would I know what it is otherwise.” And to be fair, she has a point about some of the Rae Dunn items on the shelves. So with that in mind, I limit my Rae Dunn purchases to pens, journals, and small seasonal decorations for my study. So why get the “love” heart? Do I really need the reminder to love?
Yes. Yes, I do. I need it badly. Frankly, I think we all do.
I love my husband and I don’t need to remind myself that I love him. I need the reminder of how to love him; with compassion, grace, and understanding; patience and support. That goes for my children, family members, close friends, and everybody else on the planet. I need to remind myself how to love others because in recent years it’s been a struggle, and not just for me. It’s been a nation-wide nut cluster of anger, fear, and hatred for all of us.
“Now wait a second, Jen,” you may be saying, “I support the rights and humanity of all people. I marched in DC. I donated to the ACLU and SPLC. I bought Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an anti-racist; I’m trying to make love happen here, so hate will disappear. I’m trying to fix the problem by acting.”
Yes, you are. And I love you for that hard work and effort to bring justice about. But did you do it with love in your heart for all people on all sides? I didn’t. I absolutely did not. I saw the injustice and got angry. And then I categorized people. And then I didn’t like “them” because they hurt people. And I posted memes depicting how a large swath of humanity was stupid. I was critical of opposing opinions I read online and likely beat people over the head with my brick of truth to change their minds.
Because I feel like we all did.
And that is not loving as Jesus taught us.
That’s cherry-picking the people we think are right, or oppressed or beaten down, and loving them and them alone.
I am not Jesus, which is a fact we established long ago, but I try to follow his example. Yet I have not loved him with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbors as myself. And now that my eyes are open wide to my failure, I am truly sorry and humbly repent. (Lent is good for that you know; recognizing sin and figuring out how to get back into the right relationship with God.)
And that friends, is why, when I was at Marshall’s several months ago, the Holy Spirit guided my hand to the dusty pink heart-shaped plaque that says “love” on it. So when the time came for my eyes to be opened, and my sorrow exposed, that I would have a reminder.
Love is the way, friends. Jesus’ way of love is what I strive to practice each day. I will get it right, and wrong, every single day. I probably won’t love everybody the way I pray I will. I likely won’t give up my strong opinions either. I will work on listening and learning, having compassion, and remembering that everybody has painful brokenness within them. I will try and figure out how to give grace even when it feels messy and uncomfortable. I will keep trying my best, which is all Jesus asks of me, and thanks to Rae Dunn’s basic piece of art, the reminder will always be right in front of me.