It’s conversations like this one…that overwhelm me with thankfulness that my grandpa survived his open-heart surgery this past week and I get to continue spending time with him.
We were sitting in the ICU the day after he had surgery and he told me a story about a dog. It was a long story but the down and dirty was...there was a mean dog and despite the fact the dog was mean, the owner was very loving toward the dog. Eventually the dog came around and licked his face (don't ask me why 'licking his face' equates to being kind...in my grandpa's defense he was post-op and on pain medication!). Anyway, the moral of the story is...sometimes you need to show loving kindness to people that aren't deserving of it, so they can learn how to love.
In life, often the people least deserving of love and kindness are the people who need it most. People are going to hurt, disappointment and upset you. And more often than not, those ‘people’ will be people you should be really close to…parents, children, siblings, best friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, etc. And for some, the hurt and disappointment runs deep. The pain is palpable. And very, very real. And it’s really hard to treat those people with love and kindness. But we need to remember how we treat others has little to do with that particular person or how they treat us. It has everything to do with God. God commands we honor, respect and love one another. And in these commandments, there are rarely exceptions:
“Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
You don’t have love your mother and father. You don’t even have to like them. And there are probably times when they certainly do not deserve your respect, love and honor. But honor them anyway. Because by honoring their position as your parents, you honor God. Your actions are in obedience to Him and are completely separate from who your mother and father are as people. And honestly, who your mother and father are as people is irrelevant in the equation.
Ephesians 5:22, 25
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
When I was married, there were several times when my friends questioned why I continued to respect and show respect to my ex-husband after some of things he did and/or said. What my friends failed to understand was it really wasn’t about my ex-husband as a person. It was the fact he was my husband. And I made a promise to God to honor my husband as I honored God. Even when he really, really didn’t deserve it.
I can think of no better example of this commandment in action than of my grandparents. The night before my wedding, my grandma was helping me make flower arrangements while my grandpa was suffering with some intense knee pain. Repeatedly, he would call out “Dot, can you come help me for a second?” And she would put down everything and go adjust his knee until he was comfortable. Then resume making the flower arrangements. Just about the time she got back into the groove of making the arrangements, he would call out her name again. She would drop what she was doing and tend to his needs. Never once complaining, rolling her eyes or ‘huffing’ out loud. After about the 5th time of him calling her name, I asked her how she maintained such patience when she was in the middle of a project. I will never forget her reply; “I serve my God by serving my husband.” It was such a simple expression but was a true example of honor and marriage and love. I can only hope to be able to demonstrate such love again someday. It really isn’t about who your husband or wife is or isn’t, it is about who your God is and how you honor Him.
Mark 12:30, 31
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.
God commands us to love each other. And I think this general statement covers all people and all situations. At the end of the day, you are to act out of love. Regardless of how others act toward you; your actions and response should always be out of love. Not because you are a rock star…not because the other person deserves it. Because it is how God instructs us to live. God’s commandments are about allowing His love to shine through us. We honor Him by allowing Him to use us for the people in our lives struggling to demonstrate love and kindness.
And at the end of the day, it isn’t about us. Our feelings. Our pain. Our disappointment. It is about allowing God to use us for the people in our lives that need love, kindness, respect, etc. By obeying God, we bring Him glory by allowing Him to use us for a greater purpose.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love, kindness and a hospital room,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.