She lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her two children on the top floor of an inner city housing project. A king-size mattress lies in the middle of the living room floor. The television is blaring, the radiator is wheezing, and in the corner there are 3 bulging, dark green garbage bags. (There are no elevators in the building, so my guess is she is waiting for the help or the strength to haul the garbage bags down the 7 flights of stairs to the dumpster.) Despite the fact that her front door has two deadbolts, the door hangs loosely in its hinges. Duct tape covers the entire length of the door and is used to cover the gap between the door and the jamb. The tiny entrance hallway between the front door and the living room doubles as a closet and is neatly lined with shoes, boots, coats, belts and scarves.
She is happy to see me. We hug. She mutes the television, but finds comfort in watching the silenced actors instead of making eye contact with me.
We make small talk for a few minutes and then start to discuss the recent loss of her less-than-loved-one, her finances, her children’s safety. She is trying to work her Grief Recovery Tools®, but gets overwhelmed and indulges in what the Grief Recovery Handbook® calls STERBS®, Short Term Energy Relievers.
When our time is up, I ask her if she would like to pray together before saying good-bye. She quickly says yes, turns off the television and kneels before me. Oh, no, I tell her. We will either kneel together, or stand. I am a human, fallen, ball of dirt and no-one, absolutely no one should kneel before me. We opt to stand, mostly because she has hard word floors and my knees don’t work as good as they used to.
We pray a simple prayer, thanking Jesus for his provisions, acknowledging His greatness, and asking for His continued help and protection. When we are done, we embrace. As I gather my coat and prepare to leave she says:
“I have friends and all that I talk to but you are different. You don’t judge me. I get excited every Tuesday when I know you are coming. And I always feel happier after we talk.”
Her comments warm my heart. She trusts me. She feels safe with me. She understands that I respect her and care deeply about her struggles. She’s also beginning to understand that part of what she feels in me is the love of God, the spirit of the living Christ within me.
Imagine living your whole life and never ever experiencing the true love of God.
The Lord sent John to bear witness of the light (John 1:7) and Christ himself said that others would know that we are His disciples by the love we have one for another. (John 13:34-35) So doesn’t it stand to reason that one core way that we reach others for Christ is to show them true, no-strings-attached love? The kind of love that “makes them feel better”?
My friend doesn’t understand yet that part of the reason she feels better after we are together is because the Holy Spirit flows through me to her. One day I hope to share with her my book of Acts experience of the infilling of the Holy Ghost and Jesus name baptism (Acts 2:38) ;but, until that time comes, it is enough that she recognizes that there is something different about me that makes her feel comforted.
Look at the world around you today. Pause and really look into their eyes. Do you see hope? Do you see Jesus? If not, pray for an opportunity to offer one of the greatest human gifts of all: Complete and absolute acceptance and love.