*Lord, I Want to Be More Loving

Glass Display at MN Landscape Arboretum February 2022

The brilliance of Bill W and Alcoholic’s Anonymous was to create small support groups, where on a weekly basis, people would come together in community. There to share a common struggle to let go of their dependency on alcohol. Today  groups for many addictions exist, but all have the same common core, of coming together and working through life issues, one step at a time.

A few years ago I was part of a preaching team that worked through AA’s Twelve Step program. I was assigned the Sixth and Seventh Steps. They are odd steps because after listing all the defects in one’s character in Step Four and naming them to another person in Step Five, in Step Six you just ask God to make you ready to let go of them. In Step Seven, instead of intentionally working on some area of your life you know needs working on, you ask God to remove those negative character traits from your life. One author pointed out, that when we try to figure out what part of our character we think we should be working on, we almost inevitably get it wrong. After turning areas in our life we know need to change over to God, we simply trust that God will work in our hearts the changes that need to be made. The problem is, that when you ask God to work changes in your heart, God does. God lets you know where and how you’ve slipped and how that may have affected another person.

I find myself echoing the old African-American spiritual, “Lord I want to be more loving in-a my heart, in-a my Heart. Lord, I want to be more loving in-a my heart.” * There are certainly moments I am less than proud of. I think of times when my patience was thin and words that could have been said to sooth a heart were withheld. I remember moments when it was easier to makes assumptions about a person than to really reach out in love and compassion. I regret times and ways I didn’t express God’s love when it would have been so easy to reach out.  

The good news is that God does give innumerable opportunities to get this right. Other people come into our lives who need comfort or a word of affirmation and encouragement. We are given more chances to show compassion and love. Where we may have failed before, God offers us a new moment, to listen, to care and to reach out. Meanwhile, in God grace, God continues to work in our hearts transforming our failures into wisdom, our regrets into loving care. God keeps moving and restoring our hearts in ways that allow us to live fully, the life God envisions for each of us. All we need to do, is let God walk beside us on our journey and accept God’s love along the way.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:8-9


*Words are from the African American Spiritual, “Lord, I want to be a Christian.” Verses include the prayer to be;”A Christian”, “more loving”, “more Holy” and “like Jesus” in my heart.

** Originally published on March 20, 2017 as “Getting a Character Do-Over”