Love others? How hard could that be?
It seemed like a relatively simple goal. I was a counselor at a camp for Christian Scientists, and at the beginning of the summer, I set a goal for myself to be kind in all my words and actions.
For most of the summer, I found that fulfilling my goal came fairly naturally. But when I was dealing with kids who didn’t listen, played roughly with each other, did not like the idea of a bedtime, and so on, I found that my tone lost much of its compassion, and I became apathetic about my goal. I was definitely not expressing love or kindness in these moments.
I set a goal for myself to be kind in all my words and actions.
Toward the end of the summer, I lost my voice. It frustrated me to be unable to communicate effectively with my campers. This really started to get to me, so I realized I needed to pray about it.
One of the things that came to me to pray about was the idea of false responsibility. I’d been taking so much responsibility onto my own shoulders, and I realized that caring for my cabin wasn’t all up to me. There were other awesome counselors who gracefully kept the cabin running smoothly. But deeper than this was the spiritual realization that God was the real driving force in my work. I could let God’s action, love, and care be expressed in me, so I didn’t need to feel strained.
Later, during a regular training meeting with other counselors, someone shared an idea that really stuck with me. It was the point that when we pray, instead of trying in vain to change whatever the problem seems to be, prayer should be about reforming our understanding of a situation. Prayer helps us let go of our own mistaken view and accept God’s view, which is always completely good—and this in turn brings about a change in whatever needs adjusting. In my case this meant that I didn’t need to fixate on getting my voice back. Instead, I realized that this was an opportunity to see that, as the expression of divine Love, I must express love, and only love, to my campers at every moment.
I came to the realization that losing my voice didn’t need to be a setback. I saw that it was an opportunity to examine every word that came out of my mouth and ensure that it conveyed the love that the campers deserved.
As the expression of divine Love, I must express love, and only love, to my campers at every moment.
Sitting on my bunk a little while later, I thought of what a role model Christ Jesus is in the way he acted and spoke with such pure love. The incident that first sprang to mind was Jesus’ reunion with his disciples after his crucifixion. Frankly, Jesus had every right to be upset with the disciples. They had become too discouraged by his crucifixion to carry on as his disciples. They’d even gone back to fishing!
But Jesus chose to forgive his disciples and to model the kind of transformative love that would enable them to take his healing message into the world. I saw that I could be taking notes from Jesus’ example and, in a small way, follow in his footsteps by letting love be at the heart of everything I said and did. As the spiritual expression of God, who is divine Love, how could I be anything but loving?
After that, I was no longer concerned about my voice, since the whole situation had been transformed into a blessing. Soon, my voice returned, and I haven’t had a problem with it since. More important, I felt closer to God, Love, as speaking and acting with love once again became my purpose for the rest of the summer.