I stood in the grocery line and wondered why the cashier was ignoring the customer…
Many years ago as I was being prayed with at a conference, the person praying over me said, “Love. Your vocation is love.” I remember thinking, “That’s what I am to do…love? Well, alright then, this will be so easy! I am pretty loving already!” 🤔
A few months later, at a parish mission, the deacon who was leading deflated my naive little love bubble when he spoke about the verses we heard in the second reading at this weekend’s Mass:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The deacon invited us to take the love challenge, that is to insert “I” into these verses in place of the word “love” or “it”:
I am patient, I am kind.
I am not jealous, I am not pompous,
I am not inflated, I am not rude,
I do not seek my own interests,
I am not quick-tempered, I do not brood over injury,
I do not rejoice over wrongdoing
but I rejoice with the truth.
I bear all things, believe all things,
hope all things, endure all things.
Ooof. Lord, it’s too hard! How can I possibly love like that? I need You to do it Lord! As I sat with these thoughts, the line that pulled at my heart was “love is kind.” Kindness, huh? Ok, Lord, teach me how to extend Your loving kindness…
Later that week, the Lord led me to an article in which Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and expert in childhood trauma, explains the healing power of kindness: “Just as a traumatic experience can alter a life in an instant, so too can a therapeutic encounter. The good news is that anyone can help with this part of ‘therapy’ – it merely requires being present in social settings and being, well, basically, kind…attentive, attuned, and responsive…The more we can provide each other these moments of simple, human connection – even a brief nod or a moment of eye contact – the more we’ll be able to heal those who have suffered traumatic experience.”
How awesome is that?! A sincere and kind encounter with an attentive, responsive other brings the Lord’s love to life and facilitates healing! This is what He wanted me to understand about “love is kind” and about the power of His Love in general. His unconditional, fully accepting love for us transforms, heals, restores..and we each crave and need His Love so much. He surely does want us to love one another, but the very crucial first step is that I must let myself be loved. Before I can attempt to love others with His love, I first get to fill up with His love for me. I pray…
Lord, grant me moments throughout the day to pause and presence myself to Your Presence within me. Help me to breathe in deeply and slowly, while allowing Your loving kindness and tender compassion for me to flow into every part of my being. Thank you Jesus, for freely giving Yourself to me. May Your Love reach those places in me that need it the most Lord. Soften what is hard in me, loosen what is tight in me, open what is closed in me. May it be not I, but You in me who lives and loves this day. Amen.
Take the Love Challenge
Will you pray my prayer above or your own version of it? Pray it slowly, with breath, envisioning each line happening within you. Then re-read the verses from Corinthians. What words pull at your heart? What is the Lord’s invitation to you through that line?
By accepting His “love challenge,” He invites you and me to receive His love more deeply for ourselves, to grow in sanctity, while at the same time He just might transform someone’s life through our yes.
Copyright 2022, De Yarrison