Our friend — I’ll call her Pamela — was here for a couple of days earlier this week. I love when she comes to visit. She knows how to make people feel very special. She was kind and gentle in talking with my mother. She asks Ray great questions that reveal her deep respect for his opinions. She shares her heart with me and listens to mine. I should slip her picture into my Bible at the opening:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Pamela and I have done lots rejoicing and weeping together. I love how she tears up when she tells me about a problem in the life of someone she loves, because it reveals her precious tender heart. She has had many hurts in her own life. Instead of becoming bitter, she has honed her skills at loving God and her fellow man better–and she was already great at it to begin with!
Pamela has just launched a new business as a professional organizer. I’m proud of her for that. This trip was a combination of business and pleasure. She came to Tennessee to celebrate her birthday with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her granddaughter. I had told her that the next time she came I would like for her to come to our house and do a project for me. She spent part of Monday and all day Tuesday organizing my mother’s room and finding places for the things inside the boxes and bags we have brought from Mother’s house. It desperately needed to be done, I didn’t feel as if I should pull away from the world history writing project to do it, and Pamela did a fabulous job. I knew she would.
Mary Evelyn looked forward to being part of her visit, so before Pamela came, she and I made plans for her family to join us for supper on Monday night and for Mother, Pamela, Ray, and me to go to their house for supper on Tuesday. When we came home Tuesday night, Pamela and I sat down for a chat and I showed her the photo books I made for each of the grandchildren for Christmas. They are each 71 pages long and filled with hundreds of pictures, so I suggested that she look at one of them.
As Pamela was starting off on her six-hour drive home on Wednesday morning, I walked through the room where we had sat the night before and noticed our photo books lying there. I thought back to the night before when Pamela (who had worked all day in Mother’s room and come home at almost nine o’clock after helping to clean up the supper dishes) looked at every page of each of the four books. I was touched by her love. She didn’t just look. She enjoyed looking.
We people are so hungry to share our lives with those we love. God knew that when He told us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Even though He is with us always, He knew that we also needed flesh and blood to sit beside us and rejoice and weep with us.
One of the keys to loving our neighbors as ourselves–and of teaching our children to do that, especially by our examples–is to weep and rejoice with our children and with others. It is easy to judge the person who needs to rejoice and weep with us. If they rejoice at something we don’t think is particularly special, or if they weep at something we think is no big deal, it’s easy to make light of the situation and leave that person lonely.
One way truly to love another is to match: not only to match their feelings, but to match the intensity of their feelings. We may be tempted to tell a sad child that his issue is no big deal while forgetting that it is a big deal to him–even if it is only that his block tower fell down. We may be tempted to do that when a very different “tower” falls down in the lives of a teen or an adult, too.
Sometimes we let our own logical thoughts get in the way of meeting another’s emotional need. Sometimes we judge another’s feelings as unworthy–not in so many words, perhaps, but the message comes across that way, just the same. Ouch! That doesn’t seem very kind when you step back and think about it, does it?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
I love to be around people who have learned how to do that. Thanks for the great visit, Pamela!