This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 1 John 3:11 (NLT)
Many, many years ago there was a woman in my life that drove me crazy. We didn’t get along but we were sharing life together because we were family. It felt like everything I did or wanted to do, she blocked. If she wanted to plan an event and I explained why we couldn’t make it on that certain date, she’d plan it anyway and insist we show up. Super frustrating.
My solution during this time was to distance myself. I wish I could say I did that because I was being thoughtful and kind. Nope. I did it because I was mad and digging in.
A little time went by without much contact and one day, we decided to go visit. It was clear that something was wrong with her health. After some doctor visits, we discovered she was very ill and the prognosis wasn’t good.
During the following months, we planned things to help lift her spirits. We showed up a lot to help her and went places so she could see the people she loved. As her health weakened, she needed more help. She needed help with bathing and doing her hair….things like that. She had only sons and did not want their help for her personal care. I volunteered.
I went over and helped her bathe. I washed and blow-dried her hair (which is pretty funny because I can barely blow dry my own.) During this time, we got to know each other better and all the anger, stubbornness and conflict we had in years past melted away.
She passed away a few months later. Someone told me at her funeral that she said she wish she had gotten to know me better before she got sick.
I remember that thought being so jarring to me when I heard it. And it made me incredibly sad. How much time had we wasted being stubborn and set in our ways? How much love could we have shared if we would just look beyond ourselves?
That thought still makes me cry. It profoundly affected me. To this day, I am so sad for moments lost where we can love each other and we don’t. Do I still get mad at people? Yep. Do I still want to write them off and disappear? Yep.
But I don’t. When I feel the inclination to separate myself and build a wall, I pray. I pray and pray and pray until God breaks down the walls I build and gets through to my reluctant heart with his heart.
You see, I Am not capable of loving selflessly on my own (I’m talking about real love not just faking it.) It takes the power of the Holy Spirit in my life changing me to be more like Jesus.
I can tell you this. Every single time I’ve prayed to love like Jesus, it’s been worth it. I’ve experienced moments of incredible love and joy that I would not have experienced had I stayed within my walled off heart. Let’s love one another. It really is worth it.