“Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est
I tend to be a very pragmatic guy and as we begin the waning weeks of this unusual year, my 2020-fatigue has prompted a whole new level of efficiency emphasis. We had already nixed most of our regular fall extracurriculars and as we look to the holidays, I am planning to wear the same pair of sweatpants from Halloween until 2021. Our Annie turns 13 in two weeks and probably since turning 12, she had an extravagant vision for her 13th birthday party. Gratefully, the pandemic squashed those dreams, but my wife suggested that she have three or four friends over to hangout outside. You can imagine our daughter’s face when presented with the alternative plan. My wife, mostly out of love, but also perhaps a competitive spirit to prove her daughter wrong, set out to ensure this would be the most fun, socially-distant, small group gathering of tweenage girls in all of human history. Given the unseasonably warm weather this past Friday, she set the date and aimed big, which meant I was roped into preparations. After driving all over God’s creation for supplies and trying to replicate several Pinterest-featured games like "spin the nail polish," I looked begrudgingly at my bride and asked, "Is this all really necessary for four girls for two hours?" The look back instructed me to stop asking questions and paint my nails. After the last friend departed, we were cleaning up outside and my too-cool, soon-to-be 13-year old, came over and gave my wife a huge hug saying, "It was better than my original plan. Thank you so much." As we giggled about how much nail polish I had all over my fingers, I realized the path of least resistance is rarely the path of true love.
Gratuitousness tends to get a bad rap, yet, when the source of it is focused on another, truly pointed toward letting someone know they are loved, a "pointless" act can be anything but. How often do I go out of my way to let someone know they are on my mind, that they are important? Instead of always planning for efficiency, am I planning for effectiveness? Can I model my gratuitousness off the Lord’s example? Can I understand love as an unwarranted, unnecessary, and yet unconditional donation of myself for the sake of another? This past Sunday He gave us just two commandments, I’m pretty sure neither involved finishing the task as efficiently as possible. Prayers for you to be gratuitous in His love this week.