Loved to Love

If you did not already know, this summer I had the privilege to serve in south Asia for a little over a month (and if you haven’t heard about my summer yet, that means we need to talk !). In one of my previous blog posts, I was able to share how this summer really taught me the simplicity of the Gospel- to love. These past few months have been the most difficult and challenging times because of this constant lesson from this summer. But the Lord, being omniscient and omnipotent, knew I had this coming and gifted me with many interactions this summer in which strangers showed me love that I never could have imagined.  

During my time in south Asia this summer, the kids that were always at the train station became my best friends. The Lord taught me how to love these kids that lived in the neighboring community, but more so, He taught me how to be loved. One specific interaction I had, in which the Lord really brought this to my attention was actually with one of the aunts of these friends I had made at the train station, let’s call her “train station Aunty.” This Aunty and all these kids live right next to the train station, literally their houses are right next to the train tracks. Their houses are on government land, and are not like the spacious houses that most of us live in, but consist of one room in which numerous people live together. They do not live in luxury or comfort, rather they make do with what they have. I think you get the point I’m trying to make- these friends of mine live under the poverty line and can barely make ends meet.

Now that you have a backstory of my friends, I can tell you about an interaction that had such an impact on my heart this summer. On my last day in south Asia, my team was given a few hours to adventure out by our self to say our last goodbyes before we left that night. Without any hesitation, I spent a majority of my day hanging out with my friends at the train station. As I was playing games with my kids there, the Aunty was just sitting beside me and we were attempting to communicate. So would laugh at my friends and I when we would mess up at the hand game they taught me, she’d scold them if they were being too sassy with me, and would continually just smile at me. I had been able to pick up a little bit of Bengali while I was there, but just enough to know the basics and to keep myself out of trouble. After some time, she asked me, “cha kabai?” (did you drink chai?) and I told her I hadn’t yet. Then she calls one of the kids over and tells them to go and get two tea’s from the chai stand. As my friend goes over to ask the man at the stand, I pull out ten rupees from my bag in attempts to pay for our chai, but this Aunty was not going to let me pay. From what I could understand, she was telling me that this was her home and this was her responsibility. I was the guest and it was her duty to pay for the chai and to make me feel welcome. This Aunty lovingly scolded me until I put my money back in my bag. 

Like I said earlier, this Aunty did not live in luxury and for her to be willing to pay for me completely took my heart right out of my chest. Even though she was financially insecure, she was still generous and wanted to do this small favor for me to show me that she cared about me. Whenever I was leaving and was saying my final goodbyes to my friends and this Aunty, she asked me when I would be back to visit. She reminded me to never forget them. As I was leaving all the kids gave me hugs and this Aunty also gave me a bear hug.

God was able to use this Aunty, a non-believer, to teach me what it meant to love and to be loved. It made me question if any of what I thought I did in love was really out of love or obligation. Do we do favors and acts of kindness out of genuine love or obligation to love? In Romans 12, Paul reminds us and even paints us a picture of what it looks like to really love genuinely. The expression of love this Aunty extended to me was small, but it was impactful. She gave to me out of nothing.  

Throughout my whole summer, I was able to experience love from strangers who became my family because of the care and generosity they extended to me. God was able to place people in my life this summer to remind me of His love for me…I know, it’s crazy. You’d think that when someone decides to be out on missions that the Lord only uses you to love on others, but He definitely was able to do both for me.  If these sweet people that I had just met were able to extend love to me, I cannot even imagine the love that the Lord has for me and you. There’s even a specific word for it in Greek- agape. “Agape” is understood as the highest form of love in Scripture and is used to describe the love that is of and from God. God doesn’t just love, He is love (1 John 4:8). This agape love is forgiving, sacrificial, merciful, and gracious. We are only able to love others because of this great love from the Lord.   

Christmas is a time when one of the greatest acts of agape love was shown to us thousands of years ago- when the Father gifted us with Jesus. If you grew up in the church like I did, during the month of December, everything revolves around caroling, Christmas play practice, carol service rehearsals and Christmas parties. As much as I love taking part in all these festivities, is the way you and I are celebrating the Advent season and Christmas really focused in on Christ? Are we simply celebrating a holiday on our calendars by giving gifts and having family gatherings, or are we taking part in the annual recognition of Jesus entering this broken world in flesh as a baby to later on grow up and give us a chance at Eternity?

In our celebrations are we sharing the love that was shown to us thousands of years ago as we’re called to? God calls us to give freely to the poor- Deuteronomy 15: 11, to take a stand against injustice- Isaiah 1: 17, and to give sacrificially and generously- 2 Corinthians 8. He desires to love us, and we should desire to love Him, but also desire to love others in order to share Him. Is this what our Christmas season looks like? I know my Advent seasons usually are comfortable and joyful, but not really sacrificial. This summer the Lord really broke my heart for what breaks His. But He also taught me how much He loves me and all of His creation and what it looks like to share that with others. 

Now as we wait for His second coming, live out love in everything. We’re reminded in 1 John 4 to love one another. We cannot claim to love God if we do not love others because God is love. And as we continue to live in God, our love grows more perfect. From conversations and acts of kindness, to showing grace and forgiveness to each other, sacrificially giving to those in need and being a shoulder for others- do everything out of love. We love like this because God loved us first! 

We’re loved by God and if we love God, shouldn’t we desire to love others in order to point the purpose of everything back to Him? God hasn’t necessarily called us to like everyone we encounter, but He has challenged us to love every single person that is in our life and to walk into the lives of others, in hopes to share the love of Christ with them. I hope you really consider these thoughts during this Advent season in which we all easily lose sight of the reason of this whole season and hold onto 1 Corinthians 13:13, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Love is infinite and never ending, so until the End is here, live out love because you are loved by Him.

*If you’re interested in partnering with one of the ministries I got connected with this summer, let me know and I’d love to help you get in contact with them!

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