loving God by loving people

the practice of loveearly in the life of this blog in 2008 i participated in a synchroblog where i wrote a post called making the invisible visible.  this past year my friend jonathan brink from civitas press began working on a collaborative book project for called the practice of love, which just released may 1st.   i hope you will consider getting a copy because it is filled with stories of ordinary people wrestling with the ups and downs of the practice of loving God, others, ourselves, and our enemies.  i know a chunk of the contributors & their hearts and passion for the practice of love is so evident.  when he asked me to be part i thought of this post & the stories i am so privileged to be part of each and every day where those who were once invisible become visible.

here’s a little taste of the piece i have in the “loving God” section:

…I think a way we can love God is to love what he loves most–people.  I don’t think God’s big redemption plan includes us sitting around staring up at the sky telling God how wonderful he is.  Rather, I think Jesus modeled God’s true heart–love for the least, the last, the lost, the forgotten, the invisible.

When we love people, we love God.   When we participate in helping the invisible become visible, we love God.  Loving God is then intimately tied to loving the people God created.

Part of loving God is seeing with our hearts into the real and sacred stories of each other’s lives and actively participate in making the invisible visible by calling out the dignity, beauty, and worth of every human being we intersect with regardless of race, age, gender, socioeconomics, religion, brokenness, weird-life-circumstances-and-social-acceptedness.

i tell the story of my relationship with my friend lydia* and the weird and wild ways she has become visible in loving community. and how hard it is sometimes is:

The cost of making the invisible visible and my relationship with Lydia has been a lot of time, a lot of drama, and a lot of ups and downs.  I think it’s safe to say that life is far easier when people–and problems–stay invisible.  When what’s hidden comes to the surface and we practice tangible love, we intersect with a lot of pain.  Sometimes it’s hard for me because making the invisible visible means I have to ache more, feel more, care more. I see pain, abuse, oppressive systems, and shame in the lives of others more clearly, and I often get angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the amount of brokenness in the world.  There are days in my relationship with Lydia and many others that I wish I were still blind to pain and could live in my safe protected world.  It was simpler when I didn’t see.  It was also much emptier.

in reflecting on this project, considering the story of my ongoing relationship with lydia and so many other friends on-the-journey, this feels so clear:  the practice of love is not science.  people are not science.   it’s a weird messy art form where we show up and do the best we can to see people the way that God sees people–in all their value and worth.  Jesus was the master at restoring dignity and making visible what was once invisible.  part of following Jesus is playing our small part in integrating his practices into ours.

but i’m more convinced than ever that these practices are hard. and costly. they make me tired sometimes.  and mad.  and sad.

and at the same time, they are so beautiful.  to see someone’s dignity be restored, even if for a short moment, is one of the most glorious things on earth.

that’s what you’ll find in “the practice of love”–real stories with real costs and real learning.

i know you have quite a few of your own stories and that almost every one of them is filled with beauty & pain mixed together somehow.  that’s somehow how love always is.

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* other the practice of love contributors who also blogged this weekend on the project, enjoy:

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ps: also, here’s a little preview of down we go: living into the wild ways of Jesus, releasing june 1st, also by civitas press. i’m getting excited for it to all come together.

it’s inspiration and challenge for ecclesial dreamers,church burn-outs, missional practitioners, and ordinary people  who want to live the ways of Jesus in practice.

section 1 – downward mobility

1. it stinks down here but i really love the smell

2. dreams are prettier when they are just dreams

3. there is no “us and them”, only us

4. “the kingdom isn’t going to just drop out of the sky”

section 2 – creating life down here

5.  extending love, mercy, and compassion

6. welcoming pain

7. honoring doubt

8. diffusing power

9, practicing equality

10. pursuing justice

11. expressing creativity

12. celebrating freedom

section 3 – staying the course

13. beautiful and hazardous

14. we may look like losers

15. we may be crazy but we’re not alone

16. born again and again and again

some people have asked is it it best to pre-order or best to order on amazon or ? the best is if you wait until june 1st & order it on amazon that exact day.  it’ll be on kindle, too. if you already pre-ordered it, no worries, and thanks!

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • I sometimes do wish I could’ve stayed invisible. Less pain and mess for everyone else. But, you’re right, life is messy and probably the more messier, the more beautiful it can be. Had a friend suggest I watch “A beautiful mind” last week, did and I can see why they used the word “beautiful”. Thanks for always seeing that, PK.

  • Hi Kathy
    A great wee article. The older I get the simpler it seems – there is no us and them – all we’re asked to do is ‘be’ in Divine Love by letting it in and then give it away without stress or straining. Breathe in, breathe out so to speak. All else is, I believe, religion born out of ego rivalry. Keep up the good work.

    • “religion born out of ego rivalry” – what a great line. thanks for reading, dylan, peace to you from across the oceans…

  • “and at the same time, they are so beautiful. to see someone’s dignity be restored, even if for a short moment, is one of the most glorious things on earth.” <– Yes. Thank you for showing me how to love, and for modeling the painful process of vulnerability, in letting ourselves be loved. It really hurts, but I hear that it is worth it. 😉

  • It sounds like a great book and I will get a copy. The pursuit of learning how to love people has been one of major themes of my life, having been started out by my first pastor, Jerry Cook, who wrote the book Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness.

    Blessings to you for bringing this to my attention!

    Pastor Duke Taber

    • thanks for taking time to comment, duke. i haven’t heard of that book, will have to check it out. the practice of love (and acceptance & forgiveness) is most definitely different than talking about it, that’s for sure. peace to you, kathy

    • thanks, jeremy, i look forward to reading all of the pieces soon. glad to be out here in blogland with you & look forward to hearing more about your book project, too. your stuff rocks.


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