Doris was our pastor’s wife in the early 1980s.
When I called her house — often looking for my mom — it was from our old rotary phone in the kitchen. It was the kind of phone with a twirly cord that could stretch the length of a room.
Doris didn’t know who was calling, of course, because in the 1980s, no one had mobile phones or caller ID. There was no such thing as “screening calls.” The pastor’s wife always answered the phone the same way, every time:
“God loves you! This is Doris.”
It didn’t matter who was on the other end, dialing into her house. That’s how she answered the phone.
The caller could have been her accountant, her hairdresser, an escaped convict, the next-door neighbor, an insurance salesman, or a politician running for office. She’d answer her phone with the same greeting because she wanted you to know that you’re loved.
I hadn’t thought about Doris’s greeting for years, but the memory returned last week. I suppose it’s because we got word that Doris passed away, after more than 90 years on this earth.
Here’s what I’m sure of: The world still needs people like Doris. The world needs people who tell the rest of us that we’re loved, no matter who we are. I’ve seen the people who need to hear it. I’ll bet you’ve seen them, too. You’ve seen them in Target, and in your Instagram feed, and across the aisle at church. Some of you have seen that love-hungry someone looking back at you in the mirror.
We all need someone to remind us that we are treasured by God.
Call me cheesy. I don’t care. But I feel like the whole world needs to get Doris-ized.
We need someone to turn the Grand Canyon into a megaphone, and then pipe Doris’s sweet voice over the earth, so it reaches into every corner of the world, and every corner of the Internet, every congressional hallway, every counseling office, every junior high locker room, every jail cell. “God loves you!” Doris would tell all of us.
It’s rough out here, in this age of cynicism. People are talking at each other, instead of with each other. The Internet plays host to “open letters” and verbal slams disguised as “thoughtful critique.”
When we dial out into this noisy world, we need more Dorises to pick up the call. To let us know we’re loved.
Someone just… tell us that God loves us.
The world needs more card-senders, and grace-spenders, and hand-extenders, and relationship-menders. We need people with hearts so sufficiently full of God’s grace that they can’t help but leak love onto the people around them.
We need people who make love part of their agenda, people who work it into their days, their routines, their phone calls. We need people who are reckless with love.
I want to be one of those people.
I read these words in the Message paraphrase of the Bible this morning:
Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Maybe we could live loved, and really run after love, and remember that our faith is supposed to express itself through love, not bitterness and vitriol.
Together, let’s tell the world it’s loved — every last inch that we can. Maybe we could do that, as if our life depended on it. Because it does.
Who is a Doris in your life? Tell me about your Doris, your Michelle, your Kathy, your Christy. How do they live loved, and love well?