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How A Twitter Changed Me

February 07, 2011

It was a shrapnel of Twitter lodged in my soul.  Piercing deeply, I hardly knew it was there, until at 4:30 a.m. in post-Super Bowl euphoria, I awoke with a start and felt the wound in my conscience.

After 20 minutes of wrestling to remove it, I knew I was altered by a word that must remain.  The words around the word were few and simple, from a pastor friend in Dallas – not aimed and fired really, more of a missive, a jewel forgotten by familiarity, but somehow never known to me.  Here’s the tweet . . .

I couldn’t find it! Even though I scanned pages, dang!  I know I watched it leap from the screen of my phone.  I still feel the way it spun me around as I read and returned to check.  He referred to a daughter by marriage as his daughter-in-love.  In LOVE  – not law, of course!  Why have I never heard this before?  And now it seems so obvious, I have two of these, a son and daughter by marriage and I believe they know it well . . . how very much I love them – but that’s not it . . .

Sisters by marriage not children – opened my eyes today.  My first 20 years I rose each day with no females at all except a wonderful mom.  Just four boys in a masculine home that held no flowers and staged no proms.  No lines in the bathroom, no tearful breakups, no second checks at the mirror before heading out, no . . . I guess I really can’t say what I missed growing up without sisters, but I tossed and turned this morning with a clearer sense of what law had stolen.

Back then it felt like law, hard and unyielding. “I have fallen in love and this is your new sister.”  Save the date, rent a tux, be on time, stand over there. Yes, law described it well, but hid the true potential.  Five women have entered my life under law and had I seen it sooner, I would have banished the word.  Law is not a way to start, and law is not the true creator of these surprise relationships.  Because I fell in love, I was gifted two sisters-in-love.  Because my brothers fell in love, I was graciously granted three more.  Love is the author and love should be the banner over this incredible potential, lost in some ways, because of what youth couldn’t see and immaturity didn’t know to value and pursue.

An annual rushing in and out of town. A 500-mile canyon between us that was often only crossed by obligation. Funerals and weddings and annual feasts throw people at one another; forced on the calendar as fulfillments and only enhancing the experience of legality.  Law is cold and demanding. It does its duty and presses on.  Law keeps the rules and never quits, but love fulfills the law.  Love pursues and believes and delights and takes time.  Love embraces and cherishes and delights to discover.  Love shows more interest and slows to listen/learn. Love leans in to deposit grace and value connection.  Law gave too little and imprisoned better affection – for years – and it makes me sad to see that I didn’t see it.  Law has been lying and saying that relationship cannot begin by force. Love rejects the notion of compelled connection and finds a way to feel. Love begins again . . .

To each of you: because of the grace we share,  I want to find a new way – it’s so clear to me now – I have five incredible sisters-in-LOVE!

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  • AnonymousFeb.08.2011

    James, I have heard that concept many times before from women leaders/teachers loving and ministering to women. I pray that God will open your heart that women are valuable in God’s ministry…and not just as kitchen workers or child care providers…but as leaders and teachers.
    I am not anti-men, but I am tired of being told that because Eve messed up there are certain things I can’t do in the church. We have all been saved by the blood of the lamb and made worhty. I don’t have any desire to be a ‘Pastor’ but I think my thought and ideas are just as valuable as any Elder/Overseers/Man on any board. I love the Lord deeply and want to serve and glorify Him in obedience as he leads me…not after it has been ‘tweaked’ by ‘men’. I listen to your “Sunday preaching”, have read some of your books and follow this blog because you do have a heart for the Lord. I hope you don’t just learn from men/pastors.

  • Elizabeth SacksFeb.08.2011

    I never considered this before. You are right, the law is cold. I know in many ways I tolerate my in laws, instead of loving them. I appreciate this viewpoint. I would also like to add that as a woman who has married into a family who does not share my beliefs and convictions, that it is so easy to allow it to become a duty, and so difficult to selflessly love them. Love does not come easily. Listening to your sermon on selflessness today, and reading this, really made me think about how that all can tie together. It can be easy to submit to duty to avoid the difficulty of selfless love.

  • AnonymousFeb.09.2011

    I really needed to hear this at a struggling time in my life with my “in-laws” and step daughter. Although I always tell her I made the choice to love her and be in her life, we are struggling as she has just turned 18 and has said some pretty harsh things to me. My “in-laws” haven’t supported the situation, either…but reading this…it really helps me to put all these life experiences into perspective a little more clearly. And I really appreciate you sharing it with me.


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