My psychiatrist husband says “Patients don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.” Apparently a wall scattered with framed degrees and awards isn’t as impressive to them as having a professional who is genuinely and sincerely interested in their well being and who sheds the light of hope in the darkness of depression.
I suppose it’s a clear picture of I Corinthians 13, “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.” Nothing more than professional jargon and clinical diction that is easily tuned out and becomes expensive white noise if the words do not come from a place of caring. Ding, ding, ding. Blah, blah, blah.
This reminds me of the words of Proverbs 27:6: “Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an enemy.” Even when they may not be the words you want to hear, correction received from a friend can be trusted because it is offered in love.
Recently I observed a good friend who was making some bad choices. Choices that could bring harm and hurt to his family and his future. I prayed about this situation for several weeks then finally felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to give him a call. When he answered the phone my first words were, “You know I love you and care deeply about your entire family don’t you?” He agreed that he did. “Then please know that it is BECAUSE I love you that I’m going to say what I’m about to say.” I then proceeded to speak some hard truth.
Even when they may not be the words you want to hear, correction received from a friend can be trusted because it is offered in love.
His first reaction was to justify his harmful actions and behavior but as the conversation progressed he eventually admitted his choices were potentially destructive ones. We talked for quite some time and before we hung up he thanked me for the open and honest exchange. I am happy to say he made a course correction soon after which was definitely in his and his family’s best interest. But if it were not for the history I had of loving and investing in his family I would never have felt the freedom to make that call. I also know that if they had not come from a place of real love my words would not have been received.
I was recently invited to be part of a pre-release launch effort of Rick Bezet’s new book, Real Love In An Angry World (available July 4 through Amazon and Barnes and Noble). His overriding point in the book is any interchange whether with family, neighbors, friends or strangers should be delivered with an agenda of honoring the other person and that our message will often be negated if not delivered in a spirit of love.
He admits that “An important part of real love is confrontation. But loving someone changes the way you confront them. Real love leads with kindness.” He goes on to say, “We can’t speak the truth in love if we haven’t loved first. And we love first by being kind to others in practical ways, regardless of whether they deserve it.”
Another great book I’ve recently read is Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way. One sentence stood out above all others to me. It was when I read this thought:
“To-do lists can become to-love lists.”
Reading those words made me want to run for my yellow highlighter! An avid list maker from about the age of 12, I start every day with my list of “to-do’s”. Sometimes they’re ranked by priority, sometimes by time allotted for each one and sometimes they’re just randomly jotted on a piece of paper or an index card.
Checking them off gives me a sense of accomplishment, of well being and a certain feeling of relief. Aaaahhhh. On the rare days I manage to complete the entire list I have a feeling of success as I crumple the list and toss it in the trash. But as I read Voskamp’s words I paused and wondered what it would be like to make a “to love list” rather than a “to do list” each day. I considered the thought of waking each morning and asking God, “Who do you want me to show love to today and in what way?” Will it be writing a note of encouragement? Making a child feel noticed and significant? Helping someone complete a task? Checking on a friend I haven’t seen in awhile?
I considered the thought of waking each morning and asking God, “Who do you want me to show love to today and in what way?”
Voskamp’s description of clocks is etched in my mind: “The hands of every clock never stop signing this: the best use of your hands is always love. The best way to say you love is always time. The best time to love is always now.” And on another page, “Time is for this. The hands on the clock never stop waving to get my attention, that time and my own hands are for nothing more than love – not schedules or agendas or to-do lists.” Those words brought both conviction and inspiration to my soul.
I once was in a writer’s workshop where we were asked to write our own epitaph. After giving it much consideration, I ended up with only two words which I would hope summarized my life: SHE LOVED. For in the end what else really matters? According to Scripture, even if I have great spiritual gifting, depths of wisdom and mountains of knowledge, without love I am nothing. And if I am the most generous, self-sacrificing person on the planet but do not have love, I have gained nothing. (1 Cor. 13: 2,3)
Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In all of our sayings and doings, our comings and goings, our efforts and energies, what worthwhile thing is accomplished without love?
In 3 of the 4 gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Jesus is asked the same question: Which is the greatest commandment in the law? Each time his reply is the same. Loving God and loving each other. Whenever friends cook for me I tell them I can taste love in every bite. It’s the secret ingredient that makes it special. I want everything I serve up to the world to be flavored in this way because the taste of kindness is what will be remembered long after my good deeds are done. And the sound of affirmation is what will be ringing in their ears days after our conversation has ceased. Because ultimately it is not my words they will remember but rather how they made them feel.
Lord, let me do it all with love.