Simply Love

About a week ago, I returned from a six week trip to south Asia. During my time there, the Lord gave me opportunities to see Him in poverty and brokenness. My time there definitely has tainted how I view this world and even my life. The Lord broke my heart in ways I could have never imagined. He brought me so much joy through the smallest encounters. But more than all of that, He pushed me to dream of what this world would look like if all His followers obeyed His greatest command- to love all.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been asking God to teach me how to love better. During my summer, the Lord allowed my heart to hurt for what hurts His, which then taught me how to love more intimately, like He does. In order for me to love more intimately, I had to endure a part of the pain the Lord feels. One of the main ways God did this for me was through how I saw people. Whenever I played with my kids at the train station, I saw my Sunday school kids I teach back home in them. When I saw a young boy working at the sweet shop everyday, making jalebi (an Indian sweet), I saw my little cousin. Every time I saw an appachen or ammachi begging for money, I saw my grandparents in them. By opening up my eyes and my heart to the brokenness in this place, the Lord entrusted me with a piece of His heart. The Lord took my privileged, comfortable, American born heart and shattered it. 

The Lord had my heart broken and shattered for the people I wanted to love so that compassion could grow in my heart. This was the greatest lesson the Lord taught me this summer- how to be compassionate. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “compassion is a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc…” And this summer, this is exactly what I carried in my heart throughout my whole time there. God had to open my eyes to really see those who were sick and hungry so that I could understand the hardship they live through in order to love them with empathy. He had to open my eyes- it’s not that I lacked vision, but I lacked a vision of compassion. God was able to take me, an average Indian, American born young lady, and teach me how to show compassion.

In order to be compassionate, the Lord had to first give me vision to do so. He had to help me see those who were hurting, and my next challenge was to acknowledge them- they needed to know that I saw them.

One of the sights that broke my heart every time was when grown men and women would ignore elderly who were begging. And it would not just be from a distance, but when they would ignore an appachen or ammachi who would literally be tapping on their shoulder or standing right in front of them. In India, respect is very important and is a value embedded into the culture, especially to those of older age. So being in a country where elderly are traditionally given so much respect, but seeing elderly continually ignored because of their lack of wealth and lower social class would make my blood boil. This idea of people’s respect and value depending on their wealth and class broke my heart. 

Neither one of our lives matter more than another’s, but in this world, whoever has wealth or is part of a certain ethnic background can sadly be the deciding factor. So my trip director challenged my team to really seek out God in these places and to ask Him to teach us how to be compassionate. As I would walk through the train station, I would smile at the kids playing. When I encountered a man or woman begging and if I didn’t have anything to give, I would fold my hands together, as a sign of respect and also that I saw them and valued their life. During each of these different encounters, the Lord continued to reveal to me how even when I couldn’t give or help the people I encountered, by me acknowledging their presence, it was a reminder to them that their life mattered and that I saw them. As I was given the privilege to share this message with those I encountered daily without any communication, it reminded me of how even if it feels like no one sees the marginalized, the Lord does. And I want my vision and sight to be aligned with His. I want to see who He sees, touch who He touches, care for who He cares for, and love who He loves.   

God let me in on a super secret this summer that changed up the way that I see love. During my time here, I realized that the more I was seeking the Lord, I was able to find Him more. I started to play hide and seek with God, and I was always the one seeking and He would hide, but sometimes He would jump out of His hiding places, like young children do when you play this game with them. I saw His joy in the laughs of the children I played with at the train station, His gentleness in the hands of the elderly man that would hold onto my hand after I would place a coin in his cup,and His love in the sweet smiles of the ladies that would help me figure out which train would take me home. In the same way that Israel is told in Jeremiah 29:13 that they will find God when they seek Him with their whole heart, was what I experienced this summer. There’s no “if’s” or “maybe’s” in this verse, but a bold statement and promise of God that we WILL find Him when we search with all our heart. But the greatest lesson the Lord was able to teach me was when I continued to seek Him, I would find Him, and the more I was able to love Him. And as I fell more in love with the Lord, He taught me how to love what He loved. 

This summer, God challenged me to love those He loves, but those the world doesn’t even see. In James 1:26-27, there’s a differentiation between those who are “religious” and what religion in the eyes of the Lord looks like. In the Message translation of James 1:26-27 , it specifically explains how the Gospel is not about us making a good name for our-self, but rather about showing love, especially to the poor and marginalized. I don’t think it was until this past summer I really understood this part of the Gospel, or maybe I should say the Gospel as a whole. And because I had the privilege to experience this summer, I want to encourage you to seek the Lord- seek Him with confidence, knowing that when you seek Him whole-heartedly, You’ll find Him. He wants you to find Him! But He might hide Himself at times, but also reveals Himself when He chooses to. As you seek and find, You’ll catch yourself falling more in love with Him, and by nature as we fall more in love with Him, we’ll begin to love those He loves. 

If we, the body of Christ, could love like how we’re called to, could you imagine how different this world would look? So much of the world’s brokenness would look different- poverty, terrorism, human trafficking, starvation. If we, the Church in America, love as much as we claim we do, why do we not have compassion on those we see holding card board signs, asking for money at red lights? Why do teachers ask their students to turn in their homework, but not if they ate breakfast first thing in the morning? It breaks my heart when we claim to be Christians who share the love of God, but tend to be more like the pharisees because our words don’t match up with our works. Yes, our works do not attain us salvation, but the love that we show through our actions could introduce someone else to Jesus, which through the power of the Holy Spirit can lead them to having a relationship with God and accepting Him as their Lord, attaining them salvation. 

If there’s one thing that I could change about how our country is seen in the world, it’s that I wish it wasn’t a Christian country. I wish that we could be a Christ-like nation, that strives to love like our Lord. I wish that we did not just say, “one nation under God” in the pledge, but as a nation we lived out those words- through racial reconciliation and minimizing the gap between the rich and poor. I wish that instead of being forced to help our brothers and sisters through food stamps by having to pay taxes that we would help and give out of love and compassion. These are all dreams that I hold in my heart that I pray to see come true. But even if it doesn’t happen during my time here on earth, I know that on that day when my Savior returns, there will be no more pain, hunger, or injustice- just love. But until that day, I challenge you to love like our God invites us to.

*This purpose of this post is not to give a summary or explanation of my summer. It also does not embody a majority of what I experienced this summer. If you would like to know more, please do ask me and I would love to share more about my time in south Asia this summer with you!

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