I finally found out what it means to love others like Jesus loves me.
For five weeks, I’ve been asking God to open up my eyes and show me how to love, and today, it finally clicked.
So there was something special about this week. I can’t quite name it. I think maybe it was just the fact that the team this week was insanely into loving these kids selflessly. Whatever it was, it was inspiring as crap. And today, as all the kids were pulling my hair and dog piling on my body and yelling, “CAN I GET ON YO NECK!?” and pulling me up, and pushing me down, and pulling me up, and pushing me down, something changed in me. I suddenly felt God impress on my heart that when Jesus was carrying His cross for me, He kept pushing, even when He was exhausted. Just because He loved me. Instead of letting exhaustion control my actions, the love of God overflowed. I felt myself become the hands and feet of Christ as I was strengthened by His love. And suddenly, I loved these kids a whole dang lot more than I thought I did, and I was all about wrestling them until I could no longer breathe. Even when it was time to corral the 13 kids on my mile long route for dismissal, as I was holding this kid, I felt love like I’ve never experienced before. The kid was heavy, but impressions of Jesus kept strengthening me to carry him further. Even when he started beating me in the head with a branch, I had grace to laugh and hug him tighter. Even this Spanish-only speaking kid was able to see the love of Christ through this random white girl.
And today, for the first time, I cried when I dropped the kids off. I didn’t want to wait the entire weekend to hold them and kiss their foreheads. Their smiles radiated like nothing I’d ever seen before. These kids, who when I first met them were clean of all childhood innocence and hardened to a point that scared me, were now hugging me incessantly and truly smiling the most genuine smiles I’ve ever seen. And that’s why I’m in inner city Memphis all summer. Just so I can see those smiles and know that the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel is continually being put into their lives, offering them a hope they would never find in the streets. And that’s really all I could want.
The scary part is that I might just want to come back next year and do it all again.