Having a child has opened my eyes to so many spiritual truths. These truths weren’t unknown to me before I just didn’t have a full understanding of them. For example, Jesus described God as our father. Until I was a father myself I couldn’t fully understand this kind of love. Another truth has been revealed to me through my relationship with Dawit and it was a painful one. A few days ago Dawit received his first shiner.
The spiral staircase has loomed dangerously in my parents living room for years. Many of the kids and adults in the family have received lumps on their heads from the metal edges which protrude into a primary traffic and play area. This was the worst header that I’ve seen. Dawit was in a great playful mood. We sat around laughing at his antics as he ran around the living room. Our laughter was quickly silenced when Dawit caught one of those metal edges right in the face at a full run. Of course, in that next instant the worst ran through my mind. Did it get his eye? Did it break a bone? I scooped him up and held him close as he screamed. Within five minutes he was back at his antics as if nothing had ever happened. I, on the other hand, remained shaken the rest of the night.
It is hard for me to describe the pain that I felt during this incident. I think it would’ve been less painful for me to have taken the hit in place of Dawit. In fact, I wish that I could have. My love for him is so deep that when he hurts, I hurt. I find that when I am ravenously hungry I’m willing to give Dawit the first bite off of my own plate. When I am thirsty it reminds me to give Dawit a drink.
Now I know what it feels like to live out that second greatest commandment, love your neighbor as you love yourself. It’s a common saying these days that “you have to love yourself before you can love others”. Though there is some truth to that, there is little use focusing on it. The truth is that we already love ourselves plenty. When we are hungry it makes us uncomfortable so we eat to relieve that pain. When we are thirsty our only thought is for a drink. If we’re cold we put on more clothes. We care for ourselves because we love ourselves.
No wonder Jesus seemed compelled to heal and feed those people around him to the point of being overwhelmed. His love was such that he felt their pain. When he saw someone hungry he couldn’t be satisfied until they were fed. When the lepers came to him his heart was crushed by the pain that he could see in their eyes. When he met the woman at the well, though he was desperately thirsty, he passed up a cool drink of water to address the emotional and spiritual turmoil that was in her life. That is the love that I have for Dawit and that is the same love that Jesus expects me to have for all people.