I was driving in my car listening to the radio yesterday and that old-ish Avicii song “Wake Me Up” came on… you know:
So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost
Anyway, at the end of the second verse and he sings:
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is the prize.
It has been one of those first-days-of-school and my-kids-are-growing-up-so-fast and I’m-growing-up-fast-too and there-are-lots-of-undone-things-I-still-sense-I’m-supposed-to-do-with-my-life kind of weeks. And in that moment, in the midst of all of the emotions and thoughts that have been swirling in my head and heart this week, the very true truth of that line of music dawned on me: love is the prize of life, and everyone gets to play.
No matter how rich or how poor I’ve been, love has been the best thing in my life. No matter how well my life is going or how much like a failure I’ve felt, love has been the best thing in my life. No matter who thinks highly of me and who thinks not-so-highly of me, love has been the best thing in my life. No matter how much I got done today or how much I have yet to get done, love has been the best thing in my life. Love is the prize.
And not just being loved and appreciated and known and seen by others. That is immensely gratifying and powerful and wonderful and needed.
But also working through my own gunk to make room to grow in loving others difficultly and appreciating others genuinely and knowing others deeply and seeing others nonjudgmentally. That, too, is immensely gratifying and powerful and wonderful and needed.
It made me grateful for all of the people in my life and all of the varied ways in which they give and I receive their love (as only they can give; as only I can receive): slobbery kisses from my two-year-old, still letting me hold his hand on the walk home from school from my first grader, “I love mom because she loves me so much” from my five-year-old, presents from my mom, quality time from my sister, hugs from my dad, worth from my husband, and whole-hearted conversation from my friends.
It made me grateful to Jesus that (no matter where they’re from and with what worldview they perceive the world) most people on earth get to experience at least some love in their lives. In my mind, Jesus gets full credit for building love in to the very experience of being human — and doing so very nearly infallibly. It made me feel the pain of those who have so little.
It made me grateful for all of the ways Jesus continues to invite me to become a more loving person to the people I don’t really care to love.
It made me think again what I have suspected at times before: that maybe, just maybe, Jesus’ supreme goal for my entire life is that I would see and experience ever more of his profoundly overwhelming love for me. As Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Ephesus: “being rooted and established in love, may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”
Love really is the prize.