G.K. Chesterton is quoted talking about “Beauty and the Beast”: “Unlovely things must be deeply loved before they become lovable.” And isn’t that the way in which Christ loves us? “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

And I think of how much I loved my Living Room people and how even the most seemingly unlovable became so very lovable. And in a strange way I came to love the seemingly unlovable even more than those who might seem more easy to love. Does that make sense?

I thank God for giving me that love to love with. Such joy it brings with it! The love of God is very present at Living Room. His presence is there and we are free to come before him the way we are—totally open, not needing to hide anything—no guilt or shame. At Living Room everyone becomes lovable. What a beautiful thing!”

I believe it was that sharing what was in our hearts that made us love each other so much. When we reveal what’s inside us, it doesn’t matter how we look or act. It’s just very beautiful to know us as we really are.

I have a good friend who is a troubled person, having suffered a lot of abuse as a child. She suffers recurring emotional pain because of this, yet I admire her for the courage she has had to survive. I love her dearly and tell her this often.

Some time ago I told my counselor what it meant to me to tell my friend how very much I love her and how I love to hug her. It gives me a wonderful feeling to do that. She’s the sponge and I’m the water, pouring my love into her.

My counselor said something that had never occurred to me before. If I love showing my love to this friend so much, imagine how God must feel when he loves us as much as he does. We can’t “. . . grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18)

Imagine how good God must feel when he pours his love into us—such broken people—and when we accept that love like a sponge soaking up water. All of us are broken people—needy people—thirsty for God’s love. Yet it can be so hard to truly own that love.

When we express our love to others, we can remember God and his love, and let that love flow through us to our friends. In the process we experience God’s love.

I believe that leading my Living Room group changed me. I’ve been thinking about what it is that transformed me and continues transforming me. And I have to say it’s my relationship with God, knowing that he loves me. It’s love. It’s God’s love revealed to me by the people in my life. And it’s God revealing himself to me when I show my love for others. Yes, when I express my love for others I find joy and I find God.

The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1John 4:12) It also says, “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1John 4:7b)

We experience God’s presence when we love others unconditionally. And this gives great joy and will change us.