A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
~ John 13:34
Yesterday seemed to be a day filled with expressions of love.
The funny thing about love is that it just exists. A patient of mine who has lost her ability to find her words over the last few months, stared at me yesterday morning as I read Psalms to her, and offered prayer. As I spoke to her I reminded her of the years that she cared for others in the hospital where she had worked as a nurse. She continued to stare and listen. I then said to her, "I can't imagine what it must be like to have lost your words and your ability to to speak."
With those words, her eyes began to well up, and tears began to flow. It seems as if I had discovered how she was feeling about her condition, and touched the woundedness that she was feeling. I asked if I could give her a hug, and with all her strength, she opened her hands and arms enough to allow me to hug her. As I did, I could feel her tears touching my face.
In that moment, I had discovered her pain, while also understanding more fully the reason that Jesus asked that we, "Love one another."
Later in the day I spent time with a couple who have been together for nearly 60 years, but who "finally decided to marry," three years ago. The woman shared, "I can't say married life has been all that great. He had something happen to him just a few months after we married. He couldn't remember my name, or anyone else for that matter. I still tell him I love him, even though he only knows of me as a stranger who sits here with him every day."
"I want him to know that he is loved each day," she continued.
What is it about God's love that connects us? Made from the same dirt, each bearing God's breath, we are uniquely made but have a common need for love. It is the very thing that we long for, but yet find it so difficult to understand at times.
While Jesus reminds us that we are to love one another as he has, I am reminded that this is our invitation to love others, but not our responsibility to make others love us. Receiving the love from others is something that just does not always happen, and that is where I feel that we struggle. The act of God sending Jesus so that we may have a better understanding of what unconditional love looks like is the reminder that we need to have those who simply love around us as examples.
Each of us can be instruments of God's love. It doesn't have to be an outpouring of Hallmark moments. Sometimes it is simply listening, the touch of a hand, or taking the time to look someone in the eye.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
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.