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 13:4-7
I was fuming.
In the hundreds of calls I’d made this year to patients, helping them find resources and manage chronic medical conditions, I was referred one person who challenged me more than anyone else I could remember. After our initial call, I swear you could hear my hair sizzle. It took some time to process, but words like “traumatic” and “emotionally manipulative” cycled through my mind, and I shared with my husband that I didn’t know if I could handle the follow-up conversation with her in a few weeks.
During this time, I was motivated to listen to more audiobooks. I settled on one entitled A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve. It was a collection of writings by Mother Teresa, a much-loved advocate for the poor and by people who had known her.
What struck me about Mother Teresa in these books was how she viewed those in need around her. She loved and served the hungry, the sick, and the destitute, whom she and her ministry served tangibly with what they could. Her faithful devotion to the poor came not out of pity but because she saw Jesus in them and wanted them to see Jesus in her. She took seriously Matthew 25: 35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” She also embodied today’s verse: “Love is patient, love is kind…”
In contemplating Mother Teresa’s life and ministry, I found God directing my attention to my patient. The time came, and with much prayer, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. There was a heart shift. This was a person for whom Jesus died. She is someone He loves. For her accusations, I could offer truth. For her distress, I could offer comfort. For her stories, I could offer kindness and patience. And for her attacks, I could offer her a space where none of her words would be used against her in anger. I knew who I was. I was also one whom Jesus loved. These conversations could not change my identity.
In the end, there was not much I could offer her professionally. She did not want the kinds of resources that I brought to the table. However, we were both able to share a moment of mutual respect. I was grateful for the glimpses of Christ I could sense, the assurance He provided during this conversation. I was grateful to see how deeply He loved this person. And I was grateful for the opportunity to manifest His love for her, even if it was just as a voice over the phone
- Take a moment to reflect on a recent moment when you felt and/or saw someone embody the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. What did you see? How did you feel?
- Whether planned or unplanned, what are some ways you can embody love to the people around you?