"That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses,and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:1-10)
I haven't talked a lot about the specific Elders that I work with through Little Brothers for a reason, because I want to honor them and their specific stories. Each of them has a different story; some are eager to share and others change the subject when I try to ask them about it. And that's okay. I understand that it's not easy to share.
But here's the thing: So many of their stories are not very happy. These are Seniors who have been classified as "lonely and isolated" for a reason. Unfortunately, many of them are not the easiest to be around; often they say things without thinking, they do things that are very self-centered, and they isolate themselves by doing these things.
I came into this year wanting a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love people, and I have definitely gotten the chance to do that. I truly love people all day long, and I am beyond thankful for that. These are people who need it; too often I'm the only one in their life who takes the time to listen to them and just be with them. But I've also learned a lot about loving, as a verb. It's a whole lot of work. It requires way more of 1 Corinthians 13 than I understood before.
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
And probably the most important thing I'm learning is to rely on God more. I am reminded daily, when my strength runs out and I just want to stop, that I should be looking to Him to provide. I am not supposed to be giving away my own love, but God's. He has more than enough for all of my elders. More than enough for the entire city of Chicago, and the whole world. He is never going to run out. On the other hand, I do. Daily. My tank of patience and kindness and love is completely dry many days, which is an amazing opportunity to allow Him to work.
Some recent photos from a few different Little Brothers luncheons and outings:
P.S. Watch for a blog post in the next few days about my trip to Washington D.C. last weekend!