BY AMY LINVILLE |
“Was that said in love?” I ask in an attempt to bring a sense of lightheartedness to the situation and cease a quarrel between two campers. I know it’s cheesy, but you can only ask them to stop and behave so many times, and it’s a long week. Most of the time, it serves only to bring laughter. But in reality, I hope that this phrase occasionally slips into the mind of the campers as they prepare for bed, reflect during small group, or play “knock-out” on the slab. And the more I hope it for the kids at camp, the more I hope this thought slips into the minds of friends, family, and myself at home.
I like words. I like to analyze words, study the history of words, search for context of words, and ponder for hours over word choice. I know that most people might not spend as much energy on these pursuits as I do, but I receive a great deal of fulfillment in trying to understand from where our words come. Our words and actions are rooted in our thoughts and emotions. Each piece gives away how we think, process, and feel. The things we say and do offer glimpses into our physical, spiritual, and mental states. My husband knows that many of my words said in anger can originate in hunger (hanger is dangerous and not to be taken lightly). I know that a young camper’s tears and pleading phrases can often come from a place of fear; being away from home for the first time is scary. Perhaps those we see spreading hateful words are really confused, afraid, and maybe a little hangry. Many days, it takes effort and pause for me to ensure that my words are coming from a place of love. I have to be mindful about it.
So, what does it mean to speak, and even act, from a place of love? We all know that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians, 4-7. NIV). This passage from the Bible is probably one of the most quoted, but I know it is not enacted nearly as frequently. To come from a place of love would require patience and a yearning to understand and listen. It would necessitate us to put aside the vanities to which we cling not out of false humility or even a sense of obligation, but from a true desire to care for our whole communities. If the things we said and did were rooted love, would we give up on others? Would we give up on ourselves?
At camp this past week, we discussed at length how we reflect God’s loves in our words and deeds: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick and imprisoned. I saw the campers reflect God’s love when they laughed with each other, cared for their bodies by going to bed when tired (my favorite thing for campers to do!), spoke kindly to each other, and respected God’s creation. I saw them trying each day to come to the world from a place of love. As the week went on, I asked fewer and fewer campers “Was that said in love?”. I heard, saw, and felt the love in their actions and words. I know it took effort for everyone to pause and work to find that place of love. It’s not easy, but Corinthians doesn’t tell us that love is easy. It tells us that love never fails. Words and actions in love, will never fail to bring us closer to God.
In today’s political, socioeconomic, church, and even weather climate (does this heat make anyone else grumpy?), it becomes ever more important to keep love at the forefront of our thoughts. As we prepare for our Southern Province Synod in less than a year, I hope we can let love guide us. We cannot always say and do the right things, but we can try each day to speak and act in love. Even on the days when we do not like others or ourselves, God has called us to love.
Amy Linville is the Interim College Age Ministry Coordinator for the Moravian BCM. She spends her time outside of work taking classes to become a librarian, serving Rural Hall Moravian with her husband the Rev. Aaron Linville, and snuggling her puppy and two cats.