I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”
~ Psalm 116:1 - 4
One of my favorite movies is "Forrest Gump." It's not because of all the adventures that seem to happen to the main character, it's because he provides an opportunity to see what unconditional love looks like.
His forever love, Jenny, who he loves, and says that they go together like "peas and carrots" just doesn't ever fully understand just how much he loves her until her own life circumstances reach a place where the shelter of his love provides for her recovery, well-being, and later, a place for their child to grow up.
I have often thought of what God's love actually is like for us. I don't know if I can truly relate the love of Forrest to that of God, but the similarities seem to validate God's love for us. There is nothing in this world or the next that prevents God from loving us. While many of us seem to be living our lives, not even giving a second thought to the One who sits back, watches us, occasionally crosses our path with us, and is always willing and ready to care for us when our living in this world seems to overcome our lives.
There is no single expression of love that we can point to and say, "Now that is love," because love is as different as there are humans. Ideally we have a sense of what love feels or looks like, but love is something that touches in a unique and special way.
I will tell you this, I am no expert on love. I have listened to about fifty couples in my life as an ordained clergy person who talked of getting married, and of those, I have pronounced the couple as married to 47, but each couple was different. There was something unique about what attracted them to one another, and it wasn't always beauty!
I have often shared that we love using mind, body and soul. If you have only one of those three, well, I begin to wonder and worry if the couple will make it. Usually two out of three, then the couple has a pretty good chance. Rarely have I met a couple that has all three, unless, the couple has been together for decades. Then, that's usually that couple you meet that has been together so long that they end each other's sentences, look similar, and on and on.
While I am not an expert, I will say this, I love seeing people in love. But, one thing I have learned is this... not every person has to be in a relationship or married to experience love. The whole idea of loving yourself begins with God. Jesus reminds us to love ourselves as we would love others.
Often the idea of the culture that true happiness only occurs to those who are in love with someone else is not what Jesus was talking about.
I will admit, one of the most terrifying times in my life was when my daughter went off to college, and I found myself single. I had not lived by myself in nearly twenty years. I didn't know how to cook for myself, be comfortable with myself alone, or simply what to do! My life had been so focused on doing for others or with others, that I was a mess!
But slowly I learned to enjoy my time, and the time I had for myself. Finally, I grew to appreciate this time, and learned that loving myself meant that sometimes I just need to be alone with myself. It is something I would have never learned had I not been in this position.
What is it that you love about yourself? What is it about God that you love? These are questions that help us understand what love is, and what love is to us.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, thank you for loving me always. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.