Valentine’s Day is just a few weeks away. We’re planning annual activities and looking forward to the fun we always have.
In light of that, I’ve been thinking about what it means to love, and even more, to love well. That thought takes me to the greatest lover of all, Jesus, and to his teachings on love. What can we learn from his examples and words that will help us love better, more, well?
First, of course, is the universal idea of “love your neighbor as yourself,” along with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We think of what would be loving to us and try to do that for the people around us.
At the Well Community, that translates to treating each other with respect, honoring members’ dignity, listening attentively, anticipating needs and serving one another in humility. Much of the world looks at our members and others living with severe mental health challenges and then looks away, which leads me to one of Christ’s greatest parables: the Good Samaritan.
A man “fell among robbers.”
Like that man, our members fell among mental illness. They were living life with dreams and plans and somewhere along the way (typically in late adolescence) their lives were ambushed by mental illness. They didn’t do anything to deserve the disabling pain or the theft of all they held dear; it just fell upon them.
Several people passed by the injured man.
So often, more frequently than you or I can imagine, people overlook, ignore or ostracize people dealing with mental health conditions. They can tell the person is unwell, but keep on their way, not knowing what to do or not caring to do it.
A Samaritan stopped to help.
As I understand it, the religious people of the day looked down on Samaritans, considering them less than. But it was this person, this Samaritan who understood being oppressed, who was the one to stop, to care, to love well. I see this among supporters of the Well Community. Some who care about our members do so because they or someone they love has walked in pain and experienced hopeless helplessness. Others support the Well even though they have not personally encountered the extreme struggles that accompany mental illness.
He took the injured man to the inn.
I wonder if we should call the Well Community the “Well Community Inn.” We are told that the innkeeper bandaged the wounds and cared for the hurt man. That’s a good part of what we do at the Well. We give comfort, aid and a place to belong.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing about our Love Well campaign. We’ll be encouraging you to give generously to help us care for those in our care. That’s what the good Samaritan did. He provided support so the injured man could have a safe, loving environment. And that’s what it means to Love Well.