My ego almost caused me to walk right past an incredible blessing. There she was, standing down the hallway of the church. Just seeing her there stirred up that red-hot feeling from months ago that made fire run from my gut to my cheeks. You see, I happened to walk in on her speaking about me in a not-so-nice way. I acted like it was no big deal at the time, but here I was, getting heated all over again.
As I walked by her, I tried to act busy and not make eye contact. I was, in fact, incredibly busy. I was helping set up a women’s ministry event for that evening, and our guest speaker would be there any moment. But then I felt it – the nudging. I could feel it as plainly as a rumble in my hungry stomach.
“Talk to her. Invite her to come tonight,” He whispered.
“Um, no thanks, God. In case You don’t remember, she isn’t too keen on me, and I’m not feeling the love all that much either.”
I kept walking.
“I’m asking you to talk to her.”
This was a slightly less gentle nudging. I knew I would be disobeying if I didn’t turn around, but I slowly shuffled ahead.
“I just can’t do it, God, “ I argued. “If I don’t get these last things ready for tonight, I won’t be ready on time. And I just can’t make myself turn around. It doesn’t work this time. I’m sure I’ll get another chance, “ I justified.
Then I stopped. I closed my eyes. It took me a few moments to gather the courage to turn around and head toward her.
My stomach hurt and my heart started beating faster. But as I got closer, I had no choice but to speak. I offered a cheerful greeting and asked how she was doing. She was as surprised as I was. We exchanged small talk, and then I asked her if she would want to come to the women’s ministry event happening in a very short time. I explained we had a speaker coming to talk to us about grace and how to help girls experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.
She broke into sobs almost immediately.
She explained she wouldn’t be great company, as this was her story. She went on to share that when she was in high school, and the word got out that she was going to have a baby, she and her family were met with judgment, harsh words, and humiliation. Everybody has a story.
We hugged and cried together in the hallway, and suddenly, it didn’t matter if the table settings were ready or if the cheesecake was thawed. This is what it is about. And I almost walked right past it.
Romans 12:9-10 says,
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong, hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
I was overflowing with love for this woman as I hugged her tightly, yet, just moments before, I was justifying why I shouldn’t talk to her.
There will always be a reason to keep us from genuinely loving. But we can decide to be different. We can respond in love when someone hurts us or when it’s difficult to love them. This is what can make those who follow Christ look different from the rest of the world.
Love that knows no bounds. Love wrapped in grace. Love that can get over our own insecurities, doubts, and fears. Love that doesn’t have conditions or rights. Love that doesn’t demand its own way.
As I read 1 Corinthians 13, it has a whole new meaning. Read those words, picturing those you hold back your love from, intentionally or unintentionally. It’s not easy being vulnerable in this way, but take steps to show genuine affection, no matter the cost.
Don’t walk right past those opportunities God has placed in your path to let His love flow through you.