“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8 (ESV)
LOVE. What exactly is this four letters word? Could it be gratitude and compassion for every living thing? Is Love other than what we think we know it to be? Do I love you because you give me the ultimate high or do I love you because you are a necessary piece in the Universe? Do I love you because you were molded by the same God who shaped me, advertently making us Brothers in Christ? Yes, I do. You might be a pain, but you are a necessary pain and I need you for my continued growth. We all need love, especially the type that elevates and brings out the best in us. Love is, and without a doubt, a beautiful thing.
When it comes to love, the heart seems present, but the mind is often not. Sometimes we fail even at the basic form of love (to listen, understand, to be open-minded, compassionate, etc). Love is a continuous struggle and we must be very cautious when dealing with difficult individuals. As a friend, I have failed to be patient a few times and I am conscious of my capacity to disappoint (taking too long to return phone calls, for instance as well as standing still in the midst of disrespect). As I am maturing, I’m also learning to be still (Psalm 46:10). I am not afraid to take the first step and ask for forgiveness regardless of the attitude of the other person.
Love is all I have to give; it’s all I seek and it’s all I need. I am not out to impress anyone, I use my words wisely.
FORGIVENESS. Most people (including me, until last week) believe it’s a gift to oneself. Defining forgiveness this way is being selfish because we only think about us. Yes, our offender has done enough damage already, why should we include him/her in the big picture? Well, because our actions and decisions have consequences in the after life. Sometimes we believe that we have forgiven someone when in reality we have not. Take an accident for instance. You’re driving and you get hit badly. Because of the chock you don’t feel a thing at first and you do not see the need to seek medical attention. Then, within a few days or so, your body starts aching from places you never knew existed. Someone hurt you and you think, “Pfff, I don’t care!” and next thing you know, you’re all resentful. How do we go from forgetting/letting go to resentfulness? It takes a lot to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us and it can only be achieved through sincere prayers and love for our offender. If you can look at your offender in the eyes and all you feel is love, then, surely, you have forgiven him/her. If you hear someone talking about that person and all you feel is love, then you have let go of the hurt. There are degrees of offenses and hurts and forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight.
Fourteen years ago, after the death of my Sister, I was hurt. I understood that it was her time to go; however, I just couldn’t live past the fact that the individuals she needed the most consciously turned their backs on her. I was deeply hurt. My Sister and I were deeply connected so much that at times it felt like we were in each others head. Though gone, the bond has not been broken. My Creator has blessed me with a unique gift which I’ve come to accept and embrace. Like many others, I am a Spiritual being who struggles with shortcomings.
To be shown how things went down and to be told not to hate, to be asked to promise not to retaliate; rather, to pray and love. That was painful to digest. Believing in the Word of God and believing it to be true has helped me tremendously in my quest for serenity. Having convinced myself that I had forgiven and slowly began experiencing bitterness; I was shown a list filled with wrongs that were done to my Sister and was asked again to pray and forgive. This time I had to go on my knees and ask God why? And how was I to forgive after learning about additional hurtful information? I was torn and deeply sadden. Then I stumbled upon the following Biblical passage: Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:21-23 (NIV)
At this point, I was determined to pray and forgive. I thought about my own Sister and wondered if her personal sins were forgiven before she left the World of mortals? I hope so. I prayed for my sins, for hers and for that person who hurt her the most. Forgiveness is a painful yet rewarding process. It takes a lot to pray with love for someone who’s robbed you of everything. Once I was able to truly forgive, I felt so light and I received the Love of God. Now I feel joyful inside and out. I no longer refer to certain situations as lost causes because I see salvation and hope. I see new beginnings. You can never forget; you can only forgive and move on.
“Forgiveness is a selfless gift of love to others.” ― Joan AMBU
HUMILITY. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘I pity you’, ‘you’re useless’, ‘you’re a wreck’, ‘you suck!’? Never? Once, twice, countless times? Those words are very hurtful and untrue.
If I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14), why then, do you pity me? Why do you think I’m useless? Have you walked in my shoes? Are you judging God? Are you having issues with His Creation? “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” – Job 6:14 (NIV). Don’t pity someone because you think you are better than them. We are not better than someone else. We might have what they don’t and chances are, they have what we don’t. We should pity ourselves for being self-centered (as it can be a sin in itself). In the eyes of our Creator we are all equals. If you truly respect yourself, you will refrain from labeling others. We should strive to be compassionate beings and practice humility. Do not criticize others or brag of your accomplishments at every opportunity. Listen more, compliment more and help more. Give a little bit of your time to those in need. When you feel the urge to disrespect someone for whatever reason: resist through prayers by calling upon the One who never sleeps. Remember that, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV).
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1–3 (NIV)