Read that one more time, slowly.
Your life is a love letter.
A few years ago, these words began a soul shift in me that’s been changing my life for the better—and this February you’re invited into the same when for every week of the “looove” month, Monday thru Friday, I’ll be dropping a love note from God (through my ears) meant to inspire more mercy, less mean toward ourselves and our people.
You can tell your inner critic now to clear her calendar.
Subscribe to the love notes and reflections via my NEW! e-newsletter, Good For You, or follow along on social media where I’ll be posting the notes only with hashtag #lovenotesfromgod💋. Heads up that I will not be publishing them on my website but if you’re already signed up to receive posts from me via e-mail, you’ll automatically be switched over.
Sounds a little cheesy, you might be thinking. Are these love notes really for me? I’ll save you the tired line that they’re for EVERYONE, but…
They are for the writer who’s anxious about her next big idea (or next big paycheck) and wants to believe she has what she needs.
They are for the man with chronic pain who’s tired of hustling to find a fix and wants to live like he doesn’t have to.
They are for the student or pastor or divinity school dissident whose joy has run dry and could use a cup of whimsy.
They are for the childfree and the childfull alike who want to trust that they are more than their desire (or lack thereof) to partner, parent, or procreate.
In other words, these love notes from God are for people like me and, hopefully, people like you who are falling deeper in love with their life as it is.
Are you in? Sign-up here.
My soul shift story began not with divine lines dropped over me but fretful ones flung at God: “This is not the life I wanted.”
I’m sitting on the beach, pink toes buried in shallow sand, when I hear their hum in my head. There is a notebook in one hand, a theology book on my thigh. It’s not what you’d call beach reading. But I’m not what you’d call the beach type.
I’m not what you’d call the parenting type either, if by “type” here we’re talking about the talent to enjoy a sort of thing. As if to prove my point, a cackle cuts through the salt air, and my body braces. It’s from one of my kiddos, on the verge of laughing or crying. I cannot tell. I can only pray that it stops. I can only pray that it doesn’t ask anything of me when I am so squarely in a spiritual sulk.
There are endless ways to narrate how it is that my husband, Rush, and I went from being childfree for almost a decade to childfull in an instant but the short of it is we felt called not to children but community. And when our community stopped calling on us, we called on the Department of Social Services. Our first foster placement of three school-aged girls quickly turned toward the question of adoption, and we discerned that we were more compelled by the “yes” than the “no.”
We and the girls did not start as each other’s first choice. (We admit this much to each other.) The girls naturally hoped to return home to the mother they knew and loved. Rush and I hoped to return to the rhythm we felt likewise about. But with the help of facilitators, therapists, and social workers, we came to believe we could make a life out of the work of love. We came to believe that God could grow our want for one another.
Parenting has been hard, I tell friends, not because our kiddos are any harder than other kiddos—they’re curious, flexible, resilient, and kind—but because it’s upended all the “happiness programs” I had for my life that included things like the ability to follow my whims (without narrating them), to find my flow (without interruptions), and to feel at home in my home (without Little Mix on repeat down below).
“This is not the life I wanted,” I remind God before piously adding, “but I will do it for you.”
What I hear next changes everything.
Your children aren’t your sacrifice to ME! God leads with a laugh. They’re my love letter to YOU!
No shit?!? I think to myself as I lift my chin to the water’s edge and soften my gaze. And I’ve thought it a thousand times since as I’ve begun reorienting myself to this mercy, over and over again.
What does that mean?
Well, to start, it means that instead of counting what life owes me, I’m looking for evidence of how life is conspiring for my good. It’s helped me reframe tired family meetings into a time to practice fresh skills. It’s helped me see my reluctant entry into the world of school pick-ups and drop-offs as a welcome way to meet the neighbors. Now I’m learning to see love letters all over my life—from the freelance work that comes short on stability but long on creativity to the friendships that are few but fecund.
Your life is littered with love letters, too.
This does not mean that, say, cancer is the universe’s love letter to you. (For more on why not, please pick up Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved by theological genius Kate Bowler). It does mean that there is good to be discerned in every life, gifts to be opened in your life, growth to be tended in our life together. And I’m convinced we can do these hard things with more ease.
Not sure you can stomach one more e-mail in your inbox? Good for you! Maybe this love note series is not for you. Maybe you pause to write down three names of folks you know who could use a little love—and send them this link to sign-up. Even better!
Every one of us is capable of hearing the voice of God—although finding fault with our lives is a sure way to miss it (Psalms 106:25 MSG). It’s community, though, that tests our truth, tunes our ears, and turns our eyes to take in more than we could alone. So, come out, hop in, sign up for a month of mercy and do something Good for You.
Because whenever we live like the beloved, it’s good for us all.
Interested in how the ancients lived like the beloved? Accompany your month of mercy with Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West for timely translations of well-known mystics, like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena, and new-found favorites, like Rabia and Kabir. You won’t be sorry.