The clatter of cooks throwing around pots and pans mixed with numerous animated lunch conversations. I sat across from my friend, tucking into my salad. I noticed he looked a little down, shoulders somewhat drooped, his usual upbeat attitude muted. I stopped eating, set my fork down and asked him, ‘how are you?’ I meant it. Not some casual silence filler, I really wanted him to know that if he was struggling with something, I was present and willing to listen. He shared a little, testing whether I was really interested, or just being polite. I encouraged him to share, asking questions, maintaining eye contact and making sure I was completely attentive. In that busy restaurant, the multitude of sounds faded into the background as he opened his heart and shared the significant struggles he was having with his wife and children. I listened, I acknowledged his pain and we explored options of how he might deal with it. I promised to pray daily for him. I meant it.
At that moment God’s love was expressed through my love. Not that I am anything fancy or some specially chosen channel for God; more I am willing to listen and to love another.
So next time you ask, ‘how are you?’ remember, you also can manifest God’s love through your patience, your kindness and preparedness to really listen.
But it isn’t just God’s love we share through our acts of love, but also God’s act of forgiveness is made present when we forgive another. It’s not that we are the source of the forgiveness, but that we proclaim the gospel truth of the redemptive love of Christ through our willingness to forgive.
Forgiveness is one of the most profound acts of love we are capable of. To forgive someone is to release them from a destructive bond and reconcile and restore relationships – between each other and with God.
So let me ask two questions…
Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to contact to utter the words, ‘I forgive you.’?
And, how are you?