I want to share a lesson that God has been teaching me and I carry with me everyday. In the summer of 2018 I went to Jamaica on a mission trip. It was my first mission trip and I was very nervous. I just wanted to do the work God had laid out for me. The second day in Jamaica we went to a school. I was put in the 6th grade class and I met this boy. He was a third grader. He had somehow gotten into the class and was participating like he was one of the 6th graders. I went over to help him with the puppet project we were doing and that is where the lesson begins.
The next day we are taking the bus into the school and we turn around to see kids running after us. They were so excited to get to school because they knew we would be there. Once we got there we barely got off the bus before they tackled us into hugs. The same 9 year old found me. He hugged me and never left my side the rest of the day. The next day… the same thing happened. I couldn’t believe that someone would purposefully find me and want to be around me. I didn’t think I was the kind of person someone could like.
It was hard to leave Jamaica but I took with me the start of a lesson on love — that it is okay to love myself. This is a big lesson to learn, so God has used people in my life here at home to keep teaching me about His love. God’s love has many characteristics.
The little boy in Jamaica showed me God’s love is unconditional. It’s easy to forget this lesson, and sometimes I fall into the trap of believing I need to earn love. God didn’t want me to forget his unconditional love. This summer another little boy, Levi, showed me that God’s love is unconditional just because he likes doing things together like painting and swimming.
My friend Parker shows me God’s love is unchanging. I’ve not been the easiest person to be friends with over the years. Middle school and most of high school were not my finest moments. Parker always talked with me and wouldn’t leave me friendless, even when I deserved it.
Karianne shows me the consistent love of God. She lived with us when I was in third grade and now she lives exactly 4,068 miles away. The distance doesn’t stop Kari from checking up on me every week. Regardless of time and distance, Kari is never t busy to send a text.
Rebekah shows me the faithful love of God. As one of my best friends she is able to knock sense into me. She doesn’t allow me to make excuses for why I shouldn’t do something God wants. She holds me accountable, which is an important part of the faithful love of God.
Susan, my friend who is a little farther along in years than me, shows me love cherishes people. She treats me like I’m special, but is also willing to shove me out of the nest I like to call “my comfort zone.” She cherishes me and always says, “You are smart, pretty and funny.” She’s helped me learn that God cherishes me and wants the best for me, too.
My parents show me that God’s love is ever-growing. Like most of us, I’ve always felt bad when I do something wrong. I used to hide from my parents because I felt embarrassed about doing the wrong thing. Getting older didn’t seem to stop me from doing wrong things. There were some rough years. But my parents, they kept loving me. They would tell me to take a deep breath. I would breathe in and then my mom would say, “Every time you breathe we love you more.” It didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do, they kept loving me…more. I didn’t believe it for a lot of years, but now I see it. God wants me to know the same is true about Him, His love for me is always growing.
It seems when God wants us to learn a lesson, He won’t stop teaching us. He keeps teaching me that His love is big and has many layers. I’m surrounded by people who love me, and if I listed them all, we would be here all night! Sometimes people didn’t even know they were showing me God’s love. I used to be someone who cared more about getting what I wanted, than about accepting love from God. Now I know that God is the only one who can fill the hole in my heart.
I’ve recently started to let myself be transformed by love. I’m not ready to say I’ve totally learned the lesson, because I think learning how big God’s love is is a lifetime journey. I do know that when you let yourself be transformed by love will you be able to transform others by love. I can think of no better way to make the world a more beautiful place than for all of us to be transformed by love.
Everything is gonna be okaye.