What a familiar place – the last booth on the left in the Dearborn Heights Panera. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours I’ve logged in this spot. I practically wrote my entire action research project from this seat. Have worked on curricula, writing, downloaded music, played games, chatted with friends, and shared coffee and conversation with people I love. It’s been a work station, a meeting place, and a hiding place. It’s a spot where I am both familiar and anonymous; a perfect little corner of the world to which I have grown quite fond over the past few years.
It seems funny, but we all have specific places and spots that we remember for reasons good and bad. Remember where you had your first kiss? Where you proposed and where she said yes? Where you were when you first heard you were going to have a child? Or conversely, do you remember where your first love broke it off with you? Where you were when you were hurt badly in an accident? The place where you received the news of the passing of a loved one? These places are etched into our minds. The scenes are vivid and it would take little effort to recreate the image in our mind’s eye – to hear the words, see the sights, feel the emotion of moments gone by in a particular location.
So what is my endearing memory of the last booth on the left? Love. It has to be. Look at each of the examples I’ve given and you’ll see that love is the common thread. This is even true of the accident because when we are faced with those types of traumatic situations, our minds take us to a place where we envision how that event either will or could have impacted the people we love. So it is with my booth – the last one on the left. Sometimes I think of the faces of people I love who have joined me in work, talk, and fun. But most often, I think of the moments of quiet reflection – like this one – where I have spent time in thought, a quiet stream of music filling my soul as I sit here with the true love of my life.
It is in Jesus that I have found love because He is the one true source of what real love is. This isn’t to say you don’t share a true love with that special man or woman in your life. But let me ask you this: who was it that brought them to you? Who builds you up to show him or her your true self? Who empowers you to continue to love them in spite of them showing you their true self? Consider this quote from advice columnist Joyce Brothers:
“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”
Unwittingly, she got it right. While it may mirror the love that exists between a man and a woman, what she’s really describing is our relationship with God. Think of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We can agree that it was done out of love for us. To that end, there is no manipulation on His part. Christ certainly put us and our need of salvation before His own needs – suffering one of the most horrific deaths ever devised by man. He opened Himself up, making Himself vulnerable to the world and it’s sinfulness out of the simplest and deepest motivating force there is – love.
So I’m thanking God this morning for loving me so much that He would give so great a gift to me. I’m asking Him to fill me with that same level of love so that I might share it with those people He has brought into my life. By submitting to God’s will in this manner, God uses my life to bring others to a deeper love and knowledge of Him through me. This is my role in the Kingdom and an amazing blessing bestowed upon me by my Heavenly Father.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a drizzly Saturday morning: sitting with my Savior in the last booth on the left.
Your post was touching for two reasons. First of all it was well written, but I had no doubt. Your writing is excellent. God had indeed blessed you.
Another reason it touched me was because that was the Panera’s that I always took the kids to when I lived in Dearborn Heights. We would go every few weeks on a school morning and they would all pick their treats – usually brownies. They all drank coffee except Jason – he still doesn’t. Now that the house is quiet and they are all at school or out in the world the times we spent at Panera’s brings back a lot of memories. Yes, they are memories of love – parental love for children. (By the way thanks for being a part of their lives. I am sure they were touched in a powerful way by you. I know Sarah was in terms of sports and the others were as well. )