This is the beginning of a song by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Billy Simon. It seems to express what’s contained in so many hearts concerning love, we long for it to be honest and something that we can count on. But notice the second line, how love is achieved. It says that it’s “molded by sacred design.” The kind of love that we all yearn for can only be deposited and molded by heavenly hands, which is why we all fail; to one degree or another, when it comes to the art of giving and receiving love. Because unfailing love is molded by the hand of God within us. So the best we can do is to cooperate. “…Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand (Isaiah 64:8 NLT).”
All relationships are affected from what we learned in our parent-child relationships. It’s from our parents that we learned to love, or not love. We watched them and mimicked them, whether wanting to or not. Every relationship we have after we leave our parents is impacted in some way by the relationship we had with our parents, and by what we observed them having as husband and wife. They taught us what love is and how it works. Parents have a noble calling, for they are the first teachers we have when it comes to love, but parents are flawed. So whatever we were taught is probably what we’ve become in those terms of love. But God is the ultimate Parent! He longs to shape us for a life of love and to deposit his love within us so that we can pour it out to others. His word reveals the character and attributes of love-they tutor us. All we need to do is educate ourselves in speaking them, and just like it says in the Bible, “Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).”
In September 1994 Oprah Winfrey did a show on bulimia and how to recover from it. Featured on that show was a young woman named Rudine Howard, along with the actress, Tracey Gold, from the television show Growing Pains.
The appearance of Ms. Howard was certainly such that it would catch anyone’s attention, as she weighed a mere 58 pounds. Yes, you read right, 58 pounds. Tracey Gold sat next to her and was trying to tell her what she had to do to overcome her condition. As Ms. Howard sat there listening to Tracey you could see that she was sincerely perplexed by the advice, groping to latch on to it. Then she finally responded with, “…how do you do it?” Her mouse-like voice sounded off like a bomb, and her message came across loud and clear, no matter how small her speaking voice was. It was a wake-up call to the audience, and for a few brief moments we saw the cold hard reality of what life is for some people. Tracey Gold was touched to such a degree that she began whispering to Rudine while leaning in towards her to make the communication more “private”-acutely aware that this was not for public consumption. The audience was excluded, which actually caused us to be even more included. We were not watching drama-this was someone’s real life!
With five small words Ms. Howard spoke volumes! “How do you do it?” How does one stay strong, brave, or free from addictions? How does one make their way through this life? How does one keep going when they feel like stopping? Through love’s empowering effects! Certainly that’s what Rudine needed most. Even her outward appearance was a testament to her interior starvation. Her lack of loving herself was one of the culprits that led her down the wrong road. Why even Jesus said that we must love others as we love ourselves. Self-love is crucial to healthy emotional survival, and you’ll never be able to love others without self-love!
One of the lines from a Tracy Chapman song goes like this, “Why when there’s so many of us are people still alone?” Because they have those five words in their soul, just like Rudine did. “How do I do it?” Deep down, all of us, at one time or another, wished that someone would come along and say, “I’m going to take you by the hand and show you how to do this. I won’t let you go until you’re strong enough.” That’s love, my friend; and that’s the power of love at work.
Sometimes in our daily errands we meet people that share their troubles with us. Maybe it’s because they feel safe with a stranger; who knows. At any rate, listening is a great way to bless someone, and as we listen they’ll tell us things that we need to take action upon. Personally, I’ll never forget the day that my husband and I were in a shoe store when this elderly lady started to strike up a conversation with us. It seems we caught her attention because we were shopping together as husband and wife, and she really wished her husband would shop with her. She told us that and much more, and in fact ending up sharing quite a few personal details about her life.
As we wrapped up our purchases we all continued to chat and then we ended up walking out of the store together. Since she had mentioned some physical ailments, I told her that we would pray for her. I no sooner finished the sentence when I just knew we were supposed to pray right then and there. After we finished praying, she started crying, then she grabbed our hands in a very profound way and said, “You have no idea what that means to me. That prayer will keep me going for months!”
Love visits people in many ways: a prayer, an affirming word, an act of service, a thoughtful gift, a warm embrace. But the bottom line is this, love is “molded by sacred design,” and all we have to do is make ourselves subject to God’s guidance where it’s concerned.
Copyright Gloria Jean Dewitt 2010
If you’re struggling with anorexia or bulimia, here is a resource that might help: Christian Answers for Those With Bulimia