It’s been quite busy lately and consequently I have not posted the last two weeks. But the awesome things that have happened along the way have not only taught me about love, but even more so, I have encountered True Love in many situations, I never would have expected.
The other day I was on a 3.5 hour flight headed to San Fransisco. Once on the plane, I noticed the immediate row ahead of where I was sitting, was a woman traveling with two small boys (both under the age of five). At first, both boys seemed entertained enough with the goods they had brought on the plane with them. But about 3 minutes after take off, the youngest one started crying and screaming. Not sure why all the commotion, I thought quietly to myself “Lord, I wish I could help him. I’m not quite sure what he needs, but I know that you do. Would you calm him and bring peace to his heart and mind.” His mother bent over and whispered in his ear, knowing she could not take him out of the seat belt until we reached cruising altitude. She continued to talk to him as we climbed higher into the sky. And for a short while, he was quiet. This on and off crying continued for the first hour of the flight.
As I was reading my book, I could feel the agitation of people on the plane building. I knew they were frustrated that this little child was crying, from the very beginning of what was already a long flight. My heart saddened, for I knew if I felt the pressure, I was sure the mother did as well. She had pretty much exhausted her resources, from what I could see from my seat. She held her son, rocked him, offered and exchanged toys with him. She switched seats so he could sit by his older brother; she talked with him, offered him food, and it seemed nothing would satisfy. I stopped reading, trying to think what might help, I looked up to their row and just heard a sigh of frustration, knowing this mother had really tried. I began to pray for her peace, that the tension of the situation would not push her any further.
And as I sat there not having much to give physically to them, I thought back remembering the times I have been met with frustration and called out to God he met me, faithfully. Every time. The beautiful thing about the Bible is that it is the word of God, and it is tried, proven, and true. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
As I sat unsure how to help, I was blown away at what happened next…
On her way to the bathroom, woman came by stopping at the little boy’s seat. She addressed him face to face, eyes full of compassion saying, “Hey! You sounds like you’re having a terrible day. What’s so terrible about this day?” Shocked, he stopped crying an stared wide-eyed at her. He had never spoke a word the entire flight, and though he didn’t reply his heart was reached. She smiled gently at him and then to his mom and continued on her way to the bathroom.
In that moment, his entire demeanor changed. I could not see it physically for myself. But for the next half an hour he played with his brother gaily. They raced cars on the arm rests, up the windows, and on the tray tables. As I watched through the seat crack I could tell his heart had been touched. It was shifted by the simple act of someone stopping with intent of showing him kindness. By a simple conversation (really a comment) this woman cleared the air of negative assumptions and unspoken frustrated pressure pointed towards this family, restoring the basic dignity of being human.
For the rest of this flight joy radiated from this same small child who was crying out in distress before a stranger came and acknowledged him. Floored I thought to myself, amazed, “Wow, that is all it took?!”
What happened next was the second amazing thing I saw that day…
Once the fascination of playing with cars faded, the boy began peeking through the seats into our row. I could feel his eyes and everything in me wanted to jump out our seats and play with him. I glanced up from my book and saw him looking again. Once our eyes met he quickly hid his face. Slowly he tried to peek again and this time I raised my eyebrows twice. He jumped back, but curiously wanted to check if what he saw was purposed at him. So as he was staring again I dropped my book, a bit lower this time, and raised my eyebrows twice. Raptured in laughter, he jumped back and fell into his mothers lap. Quite surprised she looked around trying to figure out what he was doing.
I wondered to myself, “How amazing. This same little child who was crying out in utter distress earlier is now a very evident source of joy in this place.”
Unaware of the disturbance he had just caused his mother, he came back for another look. Once his mother saw him stick his head between the two seats, she looked over the seat as I raised my eyebrows and saw we were playing a game. She smiled and shook her head amused. Seeing her face, my mom began talking to her and found out she was originally from San Fransisco and ended up moving herself and both boys to North Carolina to get a job and start a new life. Now, since things did not work out as she hoped, she was moving all three of them again, back to San Fransisco. As I remembered being a kid and traveling with my mother and two brothers the long trips between Asia and the States, I began to realize the difficulty of flying long trips with small children. As I put myself in her shoes I began to grow respect and admiration for her leading her family as best she knew how. I thought she was doing an awesome job, but even more so after I knew her story.
This flight taught me that love not only looks like stopping for one to break the silence around them with words that bring life, but love was witnessed in a stranger’s smile, playing a simple game to share the joy of another, and taking time to hear someone’s story. All these things not only help us to connect, but also gives us a taste of true love.
There is a pattern we notice in scripture it goes like this: God loves us and pursues us. As we begin to understand his love and the sacrifice Jesus paid, to make a way for us to be able to come back to the Father, we begin to fall in love with him. Once we allow Jesus in, as the Lord of our heart and life, we are called and compelled to love others.
What would happen if we each took the time to love the one in front of us? If we smiled at a stranger? Or stop to hear another’s story?
The pattern of scripture (with references):
Love is an abstract concept and if you asked 10 people you might get 10 different answers. They would probably have many things in common, but there is only one concrete definition of love: how God defines it. 1 John 4:10 says, “This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he first loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” So, true love (as I mentioned in the post) is the love of God.
God passionately and unconditionally loves you. He pursues us relentlessly, even to the point of sending his son to earth. He died to pay the price for your sins (Romans 3:23-25).
In Matthew 10:7-8 Jesus instructs the disciples saying, “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
As we have been loved we are empowered to love others 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”