"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second (commandment) is equally important:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
No other commandment is greater than these.'" Mark 12:30-31
I love on kids here at home, I go overseas to love on orphans and widows. I have surrendered my life to working with what society considers "the least of these" in whatever way He may ask. Some of my best friends are redeemed prostitutes, ex gang members, and struggling addicts. From time to time I even visit people in jail and minister to the homeless. And I truly love them.
But in the last month or so God has been telling me to go deeper. To be honest, I didn't know what that meant.
If what I am doing isn't loving my neighbor, than what is?
As my vision for ministering to special needs and underprivileged children around the world has grown, so has my outrage for the injustice brought upon them. The most horrific acts are done against the most vulnerable. And although I would call this outrage for injustice a righteous anger, I have found a little black weed growing in my heart.
If cold is the absence of warmth, and dark is the absence of light, I believe that hate is the absence of love. And, quite honestly, I have been experiencing a great absence of love for the careless orphanage workers I see in documentaries, the government officials who say it is okay, and the parents I read about in news reports who abuse their own children.
Repeatedly I have heard the saying, "Those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most." And for me the people who are the hardest to love are, without a doubt, those who treat children with anything less than respect and compassion.
I am sure that many of you will agree that this is completely understandable. Its even something I thought God might allow me to sit in comfortably.
This week God opened my eyes in a painful knife-through-the-heart kind of way. He showed me that these people, the ones that are so desperately hard for me not to hate, are the ones He has called me to love.
And not only that:
They are the ones who He has called me to serve.
As hard as it is to admit it, after tossing and turning for many sleepless nights over this, it makes sense.
The vision God has given me is to love and teach the children that many societies would rather push aside. But deeper than that, my vision is to train and educate caregivers about the needs and disabilities of the children in their care. I don't want to just love on kids and leave. I want to leave their home and school environments better, more supportive, and happier places than when I arrived.
I am sure that along the way I will meet many parents and caregivers who want the absolute best for their children, but just need a little help in their journey.
I also know that I will meet many caregivers whose hearts are absent of love and homes are absent of warmth for the beautiful children in their care. The same black weed that I struggle to uproot in my own heart has- through hardships, what society tells them to believe, and lack of education- grown wildly and taken them over.
If I hope to bring lasting change for these children, I must first bring change to their caregivers. Only warmth can rid the cold, only light can cause darkness to flee, and only love can uproot the hate.
So now it is time for the hardest translation of "Love your neighbor" to be drilled into my heart, over and over and over again, until it takes root in the deepest depths.