As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness and patience.
Bear with one another
and if anyone has a complaint against another
forgive each other….
Above all clothe yourselves with Love
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
from Colossians 3:12-17
My child, absolutely nothing can destroy my love for you.
Romans 8:38-39 (paraphrased)
What does it mean to truly love? The word Love is common and takes on many meanings. Here we are called to Agape: a selfless love, a love for humanity, an unconditional love that gives without expecting anything in return. Colossians reminds us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, meekness and patience. To love fully without making it conditional.
When I was counseling those struggling and suffering with addictions, I was frequently reminded of the phrase to “meet them where they are at.” I needed to put aside my preconceived notions of what they should be doing, what their life should look like, what they should be doing. I needed to get rid of the phrase “if it was me I would be…” I did not want to be thinking I knew right and wrong, that I had all the answers, but instead, I should be truly listening. I wanted to provide a place where they might experience compassion, forgiveness, and a safe place… and in turn they might love and forgive themselves as they needed to. In a world that can be so very harsh and judgmental, I often wonder, “What would Christ’s love look like?”
I try to remember these words from my past: “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen, to hear me, and then to hold me if I need it.” To just love, to have compassion, and to make it about all of humanity, not just about me. To meet one another where we are at.
In his book The Rebirthing of God, John Phillip Newell says, “Compassion is about making the connection between the heart of my being and the heart of yours and following that connection.”
Can we love one another in this way?
Do we allow ourselves the grace to love (Agape) ourselves in the same way?
by Curt Fonken
Photo credit: Arlington Street Bridge, Truckee River, Reno, Nevada