Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-40
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
I have read these verses hundreds of times in my lifetime. I have heard countless sermons on them, sat through chapel messages and read devotionals on them, but it seems like at this particular point in my life, it is finally starting to sink in. God has placed a huge importance on loving others. It is the second greatest commandment, right behind loving Him. I am not sure why this is becoming so relevant to me now at this stage in my life, but my guess would be because I am a parent. Having kids makes me fully aware that life is not all about me. And this is a character trait that I so desperately want to instill in my children. To love others.
I consider myself to be a kind person. I don’t really have a lot of conflict with people. So, doesn’t that by default make me a loving person. Someone who loves people and is kind?
The more I reflect on this passage of scripture, the more I realize that I am not loving others the way I should. I seek relationships that are comfortable. People convenient to love. But what about the ones that take extra time to love? The ones that take self sacrifice to love. (I am not talking about toxic personal relationships that are draining. That’s a different topic.) I am speaking of taking the time to love and connect with the people you encounter everyday. The people that I generally ignore. The cashier at the grocery store, the neighbor who routinely walks by my house, the shy girl at church, the neighbor kid who comes over to play.
I am busy. I am the mother of five. I have a chronic illness. I have laundry to do, meals to make, and errands to run. I need time in my day to rest and take care of myself. I have to leave time for the flares and crashes. And it does not come naturally to me to strike up a conversation with a stranger. This is all true. These are not “excuses”. I don’t have leftover time or energy for “loving people.”
Or do I? Do I? Hmmmmm.
I am efficient. Yes, that is a good word . And I am sure that my “efficiency” often looks like I am in a hurry. I have an agenda, a plan, a goal, and I am on task to get it done. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. In my efficiency, I am so focused on my task that I completely block everything and everyone out. How many people do I pass along the way, that could use a smile or a “hello”. Am I on task to “love people” throughout my day? I am ashamed to say, that many times I am not. I have even encountered embarrassing situations where I am so lost in my thoughts of what I have to do, that I tune out those who are readily speaking to me. Ignoring people who are speaking to you – that is definitely not loving others.
In the privacy of my own home, I can often have a complaining spirit…about other people. Am I “loving people” when I complain about them? Am I showing my children the second greatest commandment in the scriptures when I gripe and whine about how other people are not as perfect as I am? (Just being honest here.)
Maybe this post has less to do with chronic illness and more about some personal reflection, but since chronic illness affects who I am, then somehow it does indeed tie together. I am on a new inspired journey. To purpose to love others. Maybe that doesn’t involve a new big project, but maybe it is just creating an awareness within myself of all the people I encounter each week. Each soul needing to see a glimpse of Christ’s love reflected through me. As inadequate as I feel and as unimportant as it may seem, loving others is what we are called to do. Even in the small things. I purpose to first SEE these people and then show them a small measure of Christ’s boundless love.
How about you? We are all in different stages of illness. Some leading seemingly normal lives and encountering other people everyday. Some are housebound and don’t have the opportunity to love people throughout their day. I am convinced that whichever stage you are in, there is a way to show Christ’s love. And it often takes thought and commitment to do so. I hope my reflection today has encouraged you to purposefully LOVE others.