Several years ago when my younger sister was pregnant with twins, I was invited to a baby shower in her honor. It was held at a small church in Northwest Arkansas, but when we arrived we found the facility had been double booked. Since it was a tiny church, there were no usable spaces besides the sanctuary and the foyer. After a discussion with the head of the other group and a phone call to the church administrator, we helped the shower hostesses organize in the entrance hall. The party was sweet, and my sister felt loved. What happened next was unexpected. We had cleaned the foyer and were about to leave when a spokesperson from the other group using the church, a Marshallese Christian choir, asked us to join them in the sanctuary. Springdale, Arkansas has the largest population of Marshallese outside their islands. Known for their kindness and peaceful nature, they are similar in appearance to other Pacific Islanders. High unemployment and rampant poor health on the Marshall Islands propel this population to relocate to the United States for a better life for their families. Most who live in Springdale have come to find work at Tyson Foods where the minimum wage is considered a fortune. They placed my sister in a chair in the middle of the room with a small table in front of her. The women were dressed in long, bright, island-patterned traditional dresses adorned with bright yellows, pinks, blues, and greens. Forming a single line, they began a soft melodic chant in their native language that morphed into a rhythmic movement in cadence with their song. My sister sat mesmerized as each one approached her chair. They tucked dollar bills into her hands and when the currency overflowed, they placed them on the table in front of her. Their movement and low melody expressed reverence for the soon-to-be mother and her babies. Tears streamed down Sara’s cheeks, and the choir encircled her and finished their love song. None of the remaining Americans in the room could control their leaky eyes, including me. We all had the privilege to experience love in a new way. Love. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, we talk about love. Our society expresses love with material items: candy, flowers, and cards. We focus on romantic love. What if we focused on loving our neighbor, or loving the unlovable, or loving those who make our life nuts? Love. Is it easy for you to love those who support, encourage, and brighten your day? Me, too. It’s harder to love the ones who cause you pain. Is it easy for you to love someone who looks like you or has the same customs? What about the person who dresses differently or comes from a different nation? What if we looked at love differently? What if we looked at it from Christ’s point of view? What if we were supernaturally able to exude the qualities of the fruit of the spirit when dealing with those individuals who are different or difficult? What would love look like? Scripture is full of verses encouraging us to love: “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13: 34-35, NIV). “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NIV). “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10, NIV). What if we were intentional about love? Are you able to show love not contingent on reciprocity? Here is a challenge. Each week this month be intentional and demonstrate a millisecond of love to your child, spouse, friend, family member, co-worker, or the difficult person in your life. It might become a habit. A few ideas to send in a text, email, or snail mail:
- An encouragement.
- A funny quote.
- A reason why you are thankful for that person.
- A scripture.
- A prayer request for yourself and ask how you can pray for them.
- A “You are on my mind.”
- A “You are loved and appreciated.”