" .. I see how it is our very presence in each other's lives that makes us the gift. It is by the very function of our being, not our doing, that we are the beloved of God. And so we become the love of God, blessing those He loves." Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts (p. 199)
I know for myself that when someone I care about is hurting, I just want to do something, to fix it, to make it better. I also know that I'm not alone in this. (I saw it in action yesterday when I watched a father almost become unglued as he sought to make the day better for his daughter and his grandchildren. His love for them was visible!)
This is not to say that we shouldn't do anything to help those around us. In fact, just the opposite. If there is something we can do, we should do it. I remember vividly a conversation with a principal (years ago!!!!) when I was frustrated and needed help. He told me he would pray for me. Not what I needed at that point. Not that prayer is not a good thing or an action of love, but I believe that God also calls us to work together and use the gifts and resources He has given to us.
But this quote from Ann Voskamp reminds me that it is not what we do that is important, but that we participate in the lives of others. I know I can hold back because I don't want to do or say the wrong thing. But by not doing or saying anything, we cannot become the love of God and bless others. And that does not honour God or build community.
This past winter (yes, I think it is over!) I had a conversation with my brother. I had just finished reading a book which was a mother's story about a journey her family had taken, a journey my brother and his family have been on for a number of years. As I read the book, I realized that I might have said or done things that were not helpful, in fact probably hurtful. When I talked with my brother about this, apologizing for hurt I may have caused, he was very gracious. "I don't remember you doing that, but if you did, I know you were speaking out of love for us and that's what counts." (loosely paraphrased, of course). He reminded me that the love of God can come through the cracks in our brokenness. It can shine despite us. What a gift that is.
My challenge is this - to allow others to become the love of God in my life (letting my independence go a little bit, or a lot depending on the day) and to also become the love of God in the lives of those God has placed in my life. (And, yes, I will also involve myself in the action of prayer for others.)