Right before my very first client as a student counselor, I sat there waiting for her appointment.
Just then, as I was about to go and check the counseling clinic’s waiting room, the woman who runs the counseling center looked at me and smiled like she had a secret.
And then she shared it, this sweet elderly lady who has known me for all of a year now. She laid her hands over mine, and without knowing all of my story she spoke strength into my heart.
“Can I tell you what I see in front of me? I see a young lady who’s upbringing I admire. You have a kindness and a gracious strength that draws people. It’s in your eyes – a genuine care. You radiate hope. You have a tremendous ability to love, you love those who others don’t see, and that love will literally bring people back from the edge of death. I just wanted you to know that before you start your session.”
What do you say to that?! All that came to mind was, “Praise the Lord for He is good!” That and what scripture says about all of that,
“Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
:: 1 Corinthians 13:13 ::
Kindness. Strength. Hope. Love.
It broke me. And in that broken moment it stirred up something that had been lying dormant, awaiting affirmation, awaiting the words spoken that day.
You see, I’ve had the struggle in my heart of, “What can I do with these counseling clients this semester? They told me that I can’t talk about Jesus. At all. How will they know what’s real? How will I be genuine?”
The words that this sweet woman spoke said, Yes!, I was created to love. I was created to love wildly those that appear unlovable. Created to love them all the way back to life – just like I was loved right out of death.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
:: John 11:25-26 ::
He knows what we need! From the gravest of all needs, being our salvation, to the lesser needs – like how I needed another woman to take my hands and assure me that love was a noble cause, and remind me that this calling to love was my calling. And if that if genuine love is all that I ever give to the world, it will be enough.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.
:: 1 Corinthians 13:3 ::
This calling to love is peaceful and sounds easy in some settings. It looks pretty on a Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings among my people. It feels warm and fuzzy in the safety of those I want to love. But unleash love and a burdened heart in the broken places, and it will wage war on behalf of the innocent, the exploited, and the oppressed. And, in this setting, it will not feel warm nor fuzzy in the least. It will hurt.
And yet, it’s not meant to be hidden, not given to be kept or protected, not designed for self-service. A fierce love has been given to overflow.
It shines brightest in the dark places. It can heal even the most difficult cases. (http://wp.me/pwmux-2g
) It draws out poison and lies that attempt to strangle the truth. It cries out for freedom.
What’s really exciting is that there’s really no telling what it can do, where it can go, who it will touch.
That day in the clinic reminded me that I’m awake to this love. It’s the same LOVE who drew me out of bed in the middle of a Tennessee night to answer the call of “Am I really going to Africa now? In the middle of college?” when really I answered the call to a broken girl in Namibia who needed love too.
It was Love who kept me fighting on behalf of this precious girl whose words (now spoken loudly) had been silenced by the enemy’s lies. Love
keeps me moving from class to class so that next semester I might trade stories with girls who are not so different from me, to catch their eyes and share a smile. Making sure that they know that they are seen. That they are not forgotten. That they are loved tremendously.
It is those moments when the love is fully alive and fully awake – when I am smack dab in the middle of serving “the least of these”. Love answers my obedience by spilling over and filling up all the dark corners, giving cover, giving decency, giving dignity in places so indecent that they should offend us all. Instead, love gives me the protection to stand up, to “radiate hope”, and to not turn away.
To look in their eyes and say, “I stand here because you are loved”.
Hoping that in that look, in that smile, through knowing Love, they too will awaken to love. Lord willing, someday, they will turn right around and radiate Love to others.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
:: John 15:12 ::