This Advent devotional is written by Emily, one of GUMY’s adult leaders.
Such a simple word with such great meaning. It is something we are taught before our first conscious thoughts as our parents and relatives exclaimed it to us as newborns. We are taught love from God as children with the “Jesus loves me, this I know” song. It’s easy to tell friends you love them and it becomes a big deal to say it to a significant other.
Love is the greatest gift we have been given as told in 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest is love.”
With this great gift of love, God asks us two things: love God and love your neighbor. It sounds like a very simple and easy request. In some cases, it is easy. It’s easy to love your family, your friends, people that hold the door for you, your favorite teacher, etc.
Yet in some ways, this simple request seems as if it’s on the other side of a mountain. How do you love the person who cut you off in traffic or the one who was rude to you at the grocery store or the one who seems to thrive off of being malicious to others?
We had a GUMY lesson a couple weeks ago prepared by one of our adult leaders and when the scripture was read, my thought was “That’s it. That’s the answer.” In Colossians 3:12-14 NIV, it says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
As I’ve grown older and learned more about the world and about people, I have tried to live out each of those words. I have tried to learn and live out empathy. What a comfort it is when you see a Bible verse, unknown to you, that explicitly states how you try to live your life. I refer to moments like these as “God things”.
These words are how I try to love my neighbor when it is difficult. By showing kindness, compassion and patience when some may say they don’t deserve it. By showing gentleness and empathy and attempting to learn more about their life experiences that would cause them to act in a not so loving way.
Now to bring this beautiful concept back to our little corner of the world, where do I see our students show love? The short answer is everywhere.
I see it when they show up eager to do mission work. Whether its something as simple as raking and picking up leaves, something as big as replacing some rotten wooden boards, or something as monotonous as painting and more painting. Their willingness and excitement to serve others shines from within them. That’s love.
I see it when they show up to GUMY nights, even when it’s another Zoom call after a day of Zoom calls. When they show up ready to hear a lesson and participate in discussion. I see it when they talk about their experiences and what God means to them and their experience with God. That’s love.
I see it when they show a resilience and as positive of an attitude they can have in this year of unknowns. So much has been taken from them, we are living in a time of civil unrest and an intense political climate along with the probability of change hanging in the air. None of this makes it easy right now. I also see it when they are willing to be honest with themselves and
others by saying “this really sucks” and being candid about their feelings. I see it when they take things day by day, doing their best with what they have. That’s love.
I see it when they join in conversation with their peers or adult leaders or just others in general. I see it when they are willing to listen, empathize and try to understand others. I see it when they celebrate not only their successes, but their loved ones successes as well. That’s love.
And most especially, I see it when they are just being themselves. When they give themselves the kindness and grace they deserve. When they are just doing what they love to do and enjoying every moment of it. When they are living out our church and GUMY mission of loving God, living like Jesus and serving the world. That’s love.
That’s love. It’s all of the big things and so much of all the little things. Go forth and love.