God-Given Love, Jennifer Humphrey

We love because he first loved us.” - 1 John 4:19, NRSV

Seven years ago, around this time of year, a church friend called me and asked to talk. She asked if I would be interested in co-leading a youth girl’s small group. The cool part was I’d get more involved with the youth of our church, along with my son, who was the same age as the girls in the group. The “freak-me-out-completely” part was that I needed to commit seven (yes – SEVEN) years of time to the group. Holy wow! Seven years is a long time to commit. Understandably, I hesitated. She asked me to not answer right away, but to pray about it. She would get back to me in a week.

I fretted for a week…was I capable of leading a small group of girls? I know I am a girl, but I’m a “boy mom!” Was I biblical enough? Was I scholarly enough? Was I truly worthy of such a task? Could I teach them anything? Could I love them like they needed to be loved? I’m not really sure what the catalyst was to my affirmative answer. To this day, I’m still not sure why I said “yes.” But – I said “yes.”

Here we are, seven years later, and I can tell you leading a youth small group has been the single most fulfilling thing I have ever done. It has not been easy. (Lord knows – it has not been easy!) However, I am moved to tears by how amazing it has been. The girls and I have grown close and I consider them all “my own.” We talk openly and share insights weekly. We talk, laugh, cry, listen, and sometimes yell at each other. And, we love each other. We love each other immensely and without holding back. It’s a “whole heart” love – the kind where you can say “I love you all with my whole heart!” and not get a returned eye roll or sigh. It’s a God-given love. It’s love in its most genuine form and it feels amazing.

So in your Lenten journey this year, take a moment and consider what you have in your world that you love with a God-given, whole heart love. Then, take another moment to cherish it. Cherish it. Nurture it. Share it.

Dear God, thank you for loving me and for showing me how to love. Thank you for leading me on a path where your love is ever present, real and fulfilling. Let me always be open to feeling your love. Please give me the strength to nurture that love and share it with the world around me. - Amen.

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