Walking through the MTR train station yesterday, I spotted big red cards in the novelty shop. Valentine’s Day was nearly upon us, a day when we express our love for each other. It made me think. There are many different forms of love; love of God, love of a spouse, love of family and friends, and love of others who are outside our normal natural circle. We have a deep capacity to love.
There is healing that happens within ourselves when we love. We experience a sense of well-being, giving proof to the rightness that we are made to love. Loving others give us the power to heal our own hearts. To improve our own emotional and psychological well-being. In many cases, the best anti-depressant is to look outside of ourselves to the welfare of others.
Of course, there is power in being love. We grow to become the person we are as a result. We are shaped by the love we receive. From the moment of our birth, we reach out for its comfort. As we grow, we require love to give our lives the spark that is necessary to become healthy, strong adults both physically and emotionally.
We thrive on being loved; however, the sad fact is that many people exist in our world who don’t get to experience being loved. There are those who barely exist in severe forms of neglect and fade away from the absence of love in their lives. They live in the extreme where the lack of love can even be deadly.
Looking backward, which I’m prone to do the older I get, I’ve seen how love brings healing and life. However, I have also encountered children who have been forgotten, hidden away, and severely neglected in orphanages throughout Asia. On my initial visit to one such orphanage in the early 1990’s, nearly a hundred little ones in the toddler ward lay still in their metal cribs. There were too many babies compared to the severe lack of staff. It meant these children did not receive the care and loving touch that all little ones crave. There simply was not enough time for the limited staff to be nurturing. The children lay on wooden boards or thin straw mats, some of them tied to the bed to discourage movement. They wore signs of extreme neglect. They made no sound but lay still and stayed silent. The silence was heartbreaking!
Amid extremely poor conditions, they simply wasted away.
A wonderful partnership developed between the outside volunteers who regularly visited and the staff of this orphanage. It was astonishing to see that after a short time, whenever the volunteers came around the corner and into the room, the children’s arms raised in a gesture that said, “Hug me – hold me.” Where the children had no hope, laying in their cribs in silence, barely moving, they very quickly learned that someone cared and was there to love them. They were desperate for that love. There is beauty in giving the gift of love to someone who desperately needs it. For the recipient, it can be life-changing.
From silence to shouts of joy! The children began to survive, even thrive, as they received the love that was offered to them by those who were simply there to care. It was beautiful to behold, life then joy being born in the eyes of these once neglected children. How beautiful to see their personalities, once institutionalized, awaken as they received love.
It’s as if we don’t come alive until we are loved. The power of love was amazing to behold.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)