Lives founded with compassion.
by Hanna Werner (B.A. '17)
Love is patient.
Last summer, I had the privilege of working at a Christian summer camp. I counseled, taught and spent almost all of my time with kids. I held a TON of babies—I worked in the nursery, part of the time, which is where this first story takes place.
I had a two-year-old in the nursery one particular week, and let's say his name was...Charlie. Charlie cried a lot. The only time he wasn't crying was when he was with his mom, when I would sing "Hey, Jude" (apparently, he loved the Beatles) or, occasionally, if we were lucky, in the swing.
One day, I was holding Charlie on my hip, walking around, trying to get him to calm down as he was screaming in my ear. The camp director walked by, and since he knew the family of Charlie, he held Charlie for a little bit.
Charlie stopped crying.
Seconds later, he resumed. So close.
After about a whole 10 seconds, the director handed Charlie back to me and said, "You have incredible patience. I would not be able to work in the nursery every single day."
And honestly, it was only through asking God for patience, and the patience He gave me, that I was able to demonstrate patience some of the rougher days in the nursery.
God gives patience so we can love others as He loves.
Love does not envy.
When I was eight, I was invited to a birthday party. But not just any birthday party, the birthday party of a girl I desperately wanted to be (as much as any eight-year-old can wish to be someone else). I envied her. She had more dolls than me and was just about to get SO many presents from her party. My mom took me shopping to get her a present, and I picked out a doll tent set. It was pretty average looking, thinking back on it now, but to my eight-year-old, chubby, red-headed self, it was the coolest set in the universe.
I wanted to keep it for myself. So, naturally, to express myself, I cried. And yelled. In the store. "BUT I WANT THE TENT, WHY DO I HAVE TO GIVE IT TO HER?!"
Sometimes, I still feel like this, 12 years later. Selfish, coveting the things I don't have instead of giving freely. Holding back the childish screams.
But that day, my mother taught me a valuable lesson. She said, "If you kept the tent, one, you wouldn't have anything to bring to the birthday party. Two, you would play with it for maybe a week and then want something else. And three, it is far more rewarding to give than to receive."
My mother is a wise woman and has taught me continually how to love whether it's a silly tent or a job I did not get.
She taught me that Godly love does not envy and rejoices with others.
Love always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.
As of this month (May), my parents have been married for 24 years. That's longer than I've been alive. At this point in my life, I cannot fathom being with one person for that long, and one of the only reasons I don't think a long-lasting marriage is impossible is because of the love I have seen between my parents. Sure, they are not perfect and have struggled in their relationship, but they strive to keep God first, protect each other, trust God and each other, hope in God and persevere through whatever is thrown their way.
Their love for each other, and for our whole family, is just one of countless examples of how I have experienced portions of God's love.
God as love is manifested through everyday stories and people.
We must simply learn to recognize, ask for and mirror His love.