By Jessica Connor
In final worship at Annual Conference, Bishop Holston wrapped to a close quoting Mother Teresa: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Those words haunt me. For as much as I consider myself to be a nice person, as much as I wax philosophical about living in the moment and connecting on a deep level with others, I know all too well that I get caught up in the rush of life and breeze right through opportunities to embody Christ for someone. Great intentions, yes. But not even close to what I should be doing.
That’s just the crux, isn’t it? In the final analysis, a good life has absolutely nothing to do with the things you said or the things you did but how well you connected with others—how well you loved. Did you love others after self? Or did you love like Jesus loved: completely, sacrificially, selflessly, even when it gets in the way?
Being Christian is about so much more than our belief in Jesus as savior and our surrender to God’s command. It’s about loving each other right and true, loving strangers as neighbors and breaking down barriers. It’s about spreading the Good News so everyone can share in God’s Kingdom and the beauty of life.
Sometimes we confuse loving others with the things we do or say for them. And certainly, doing for others is an expression of love. But truly connecting with another human doesn’t actually require words or action. Sometimes, we love better when we’re not saying or doing much of anything at all. It’s the clasp of a hand in solidarity or comfort, the shared glance of compassion, the warm hug. It’s that kindness you see in someone’s eyes, someone’s smile, that lets you know it’s all OK, someone understands, someone is there.
I remember when my children were born, remember holding my firstborn, my son, and just gazing at him. I pressed my forehead to his and pulled back just to look at him. I remember softening my eyes, touching his sweet little head. I was the living expression of God’s kindness. I was Mother. I was love.
When his sister was born two years later, I did the same thing. Forehead to forehead, cheek to cheek, hands touching hands. My smile and my eyes said it all. Mother. Kind. Perfect love.
Before my grandmother passed away in November, I remember sitting on her bed in the Hospice house. She had regained consciousness for a short time, and I held onto her hand and petted her soft hair and just looked into her eyes—simple, sweet, pure. Nothing had to be said of my love for her, my gratitude for all the hugs and wisdom and laughs and memories. She knew. I knew.
Forget mere words. Just be kindness.
“Love is more powerful than hate,” Bishop Holston preached at Annual Conference. “Love is the more excellent way, and to live a transformed life is to have a transformed mind and heart. …I say to you: Love from the center of you who are.”
With everyone you meet, connect. Love from the center. And be the kindness that is Christ.
By Jessica Connor