Love is nothing if it is not genuine

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

This morning was the fourth time Max has gone to Cadence Living to spend time visiting elderly residents. It’s an interesting dynamic because he doesn’t have a particular set of skills to share other than his positive, patient, affirming presence.

He doesn’t do tricks, shake hands, sit up and beg, or even fetch. But what he will do is to stand calmly while people stroke him, rub his ears, pat his head, or scratch his belly.

The gift Max brings to the table is unconditional acceptance, patience, quiet (he does not bark), genuine love, and the willingness to stay put when I ask him to.

It’s the gift of presence, the just being there, that seems to make all the difference. And I think there is something to learn from observing Max, for all of us who want to make some kind of an impact in people’s lives.

“Let love be genuine”:

I think that, too often, we make the mistake of believing people need to be entertained when what they really want is genuine presence. This is not just true for the elderly, but at church, in school, with our friends, and even in our own homes.

People don’t need to be distracted so much as they need authentic relationship. The knowledge that somebody actually cares, the held hand, the listening ear, the affirming nod, the simple fact of presence.

When these people see Max coming they smile. He has nothing to prove, and 100% of himself to give. Maybe try this approach with a loved one this week? All they probably want is to know that we are there, unreservedly; all we need to do is to give 100% of ourselves.

Because love – and, yes, I am thinking about Valentine’s Day tomorrow – is nothing if it does not give its authentic, genuine, unreserved self – DEREK


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