I had a heartbreaking conversation with a lovely gal last week who had experienced a miscarriage. As we spoke, cried, and shared comforting words she shared with me a powerful statement: “The love and support I’ve received from my church community has been overwhelming. That, and my faith in God, has given me strength I didn’t know I had.” Of course, I emphatically agreed with her as I, too, experienced that same realization over the past few months in my own life.
I’ve prayed about this since my conversation with her. I’ve mostly lifted prayers of thanksgiving because of her statement. Grief, loss, hurt, anger, loneliness . . . all of these things tend to make people feel isolated and alone. Regardless of the multitude of friends and family that reach out when we feel this way, the emotions behind the tragedy pull us within ourselves rather than outside of ourselves. Therefore, it is is usually difficult to feel comfort and support from others at times – especially early on after a tragic event in our lives. Again, I’ve “been there/done that” just a few short months ago as my world came tumbling down. So many wonderful folks reached out to me – but it was almost surreal in that I felt as though they were on the other side of a wall trying to talk to me. I’m not even sure I knew I remember half of what people were saying to me the few days after my separation. I was so inside of myself, so wrapped up in my grief, that others had a hard time reaching me. So, this past week I lifted MANY prayers of thanksgiving to God for the wonderful community that reached me during my darkness.
In the early church, especially in Paul’s letters, there is so much encouragement from him to his faith communities to lift one another, love one another, and pray for one another. Jesus even commands us (commands, not suggests) to love one another. I believe so fully that this is what we were created to do – especially during the hard times. Lifting and loving each other is just who we are (or who we should be).
I’m currently reading the book of Acts and there is a lot of information on the formation of the early church. One of the main “building blocks” of the church, it seems, was simply the love and care they displayed for one another. The growth of the church was also tied to the genuine care and community surrounding the early church – those who saw this beautiful behavior couldn’t help but want to be a part of it! What a beautiful gift we have from God in our ability to love one another!
As we quickly approach the season of Thanksgiving (and it’s rolling in WAY too fast – what happened to the summer?), I’m drawn to an early time of gratitude for the simple gift of loving others. Every day I’m trying to remember to include this prayer of thanksgiving into my daily conversations with God. I do believe that it is through this act of love that we heal our broken world – and, on a smaller scale, could heal a broken heart like the one I spoke with last week. My friends, join me as we all go forth and love!