Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How Do We Love?

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18

A few years ago, in my hurry to leave for college, I left the house without exchanging a few words with my mother who was now staying with my wife and me. That was what I would normally do but because she was in the toilet, I felt I could not wait and left. While on the way I regretted what I did. The thought crossed my mind that, her being eighty-eight years old (at that time), anytime I left the house might be the last time I ever saw her again.

MY fears were realized soon enough. Just a few hours later, the neighbours called to say she had fallen down. She was conscious but they were afraid to lift her up. I rushed home and together with my wife we called an ambulance to bring her to hospital. After a few weeks stay in hospital, we thank God she recovered and returned to our home.

I praise God that, in his mercy, did not allow my regret and guilt to become permanent. I was glad that our God is one who ensures that our failures do not mean the end of the world for us. Then it would become so easy to be entrapped by dejection and depression. It is an amazing God that we have, one who stands ever ready to forgive and forget our failures, something that we ourselves may not be prone to do.

I have also learnt that these are the small bits of faithfulness that God blesses most – when we manifest love by giving our presence instead of merely holding warm thoughts and affections in our hearts. Our presence is the most important thing that we can give to the people that we say we love – our spouses, our parents and our children. How much of ourselves do we give to them? It is a tough question that we need to ask ourselves regularly. This is because, in the busyness of our daily lives, we may give less time to them as we want to destress and unwind through some personal hobby or pursuit. We may even comfort ourselves by saying that the remaining time we give them is ‘quality’ time, whatever that means. I think they will find it more meaningful if we give them ‘whatever’ time. That way we send a message that they are very dear to us.

I once read that abuse in the family also includes the aspect of mere neglect which is providing for a person’s needs but neglecting to give personal attention and talking to him or her. That statement was an eye-opener. It is so easy for us to open our wallets to provide for a person’s sustenance but greater is our need, and harder for us, to open our hearts and increase our sensitivity to give of ourselves to those we love. After all, we have the example of our Lord Jesus to follow. He did not just give us physical life and all that we needed to sustain that life. More than that, he gave us himself so that the lives we have may be complete and abundant. Surely we can do no less for the ones that we say we love.

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