A Reflection of God’s Love
The office was unusually quiet with that late Friday afternoon hush that happens in August when all but a few essential employees have left early for the beach, camping, vacation, or a barbecue. Sue’s interest in writing a weekly report was waning fast and the music coming from her IPod wasn’t enough to break the late afternoon doldrums. Feeling the need for a little excitement Sue headed to the front office to see what Renee, the receptionist, was doing.
Renee never failed to amuse Sue with her freely given, uncensored, and unedited opinions, thoughts, and stories about her life and the world around her. Frequently, Sue found herself shocked by Renee’s frankness; there was nothing sacred or private in her world. With this in mind Sue went looking for a little excitement from an unconventional conversation with Renee.
Walking through the reception area doors Sue immediately knew something was wrong, Renee’s eyes were swollen and red, her face puffy, maybe even bruised. For one brief moment Sue considered turning around and heading back to her desk, dealing with a serious issue wasn’t what she felt like doing, she wanted funny conversation and to be entertained.
Asking the obvious question Sue said, “Is something wrong”? Renee's sarcastic nature sparked in those brown eyes for a nanosecond but was quickly replaced with a worn-out and defeated demeanor. Looking down at her long acrylic nails Renee said in a soft voice, “Kevin and I are having problems again and that bastard hit me”. To Sue it looked like he had hit her many times, Sue’s heart panged with sadness for Renee.
Kevin was a bad apple who Renee insisted was the love of her life even though he had anger issues, sex addictions, PTSD, abused alcohol, and treated her and her two kids poorly most of the time. On several occasions Sue had encouraged Renee to protect her kids and herself by moving out, to this Renee always said she could not afford to support the three of them without Kevin’s help and he was the love of her life.
“I’m sorry Renee, what are you going to do”? Sue asked, hoping Renee would respond with, “Leave him now”. But instead Renee picked at the gold stripe that wrapped around her dark purple nails quietly and apparently deep in thought. After a few long seconds Renee looked up at Sue with a mischievous smile she said “I’m going to kick his ass then take his money and run”. Sue smiled back and said, “what about the kids, are they ok”? Renee insisted they were ok then loudly blew her nose. After several minutes of Kevin bashing she looked at Sue sincerely and asked, “How long have you been married”? “22 years” Sue replied.
Renee responded with a steam of heartfelt comments and questions, “All I ever wanted was to have a happy family, I’ve tried so hard and yet my relationships are a mess. Your life looks perfect, you have a nice home, good husband, handsome kids, why can’t I have that? Why do I keep making the same mistakes? I feel like a failure, unworthy, stupid. I just want to be loved and have a happy family”. Sue felt that nudging deep inside that said, “She needs to know she is loved; tell her about God’s love”.
Now, Sue wasn’t known for being brave and outspoken when talking about God, but sometimes there’s just no getting around it so she shot up a silent prayer and entered uncharted territory; talking to Renee specifically and directly about God. “Renee, I’ve lived through many hard and dark situations, more than you can imagine but in the darkest of times there is one truth that keeps me going and that is the knowledge that God loves me. Because of his love I have value, value that human words and actions can’t take away. We, you and I, are God’s children and he wants the best for us and he will help us do the right thing in difficult times”.
Renee looked at Sue with a surprisingly interested look on her face and said, “Yea, I’ve heard about that God stuff before, I had a friend who took me to church a few times but I really didn’t like it, seemed too judgmental”. Danger, Sue thought, how do I navigate this without getting into the politics of Christianity? Sue issued a silent request, “Lord, please give me wisdom.” “Different churches have different personalities so your friend’s church may have been the wrong one for you, I can’t speak to the quality of a church but I can talk about the unfailing love of God. Did you know that you, Renee, were made in the image of God and are a reflection of his love”?
Renee responded with a skeptical tone, “That’s hard to understand because I’ve made some really bad decisions and I keep making them, I don’t think I know how to live differently. I’m really not an image of God; I’m rebellious and naughty sometimes, in fact I like being naughty.” She gave Sue a mischievous smile but her eyes were sad, defeated.
Sue continued, “The most amazing thing about God’s love is that it’s not dependent on our behavior; God loves us even when we make bad decisions or don’t love him back. He loves us and wants the best for us, always. Renee, you’re precious to God, He values your life just the way it is today”. Renee looked at Sue directly in the eyes for a very long and thoughtful moment obviously pondering God’s unconditional love. And the then phone rang invading their deep and private conversation.
The client on the phone had a serious problem Sue needed to attend to and just like that their conversation ended. The sad thing is they were never able to continue the conversation. The following weeks were busy and every time Sue went into the reception area Renee was on the phone or other people were around.
A few months later Sue left the company but continued to pray for Renee and often thought about that quiet afternoon when she had the unusual opportunity of sharing God’s love with Renee. She felt grateful that God had nudged her spirit to share the truth of his unfailing love even though she had no idea of the outcome.
Human nature likes to see results, we like to have everything wrapped up in a neat package at the end of a story but frequently real life isn't like that. We may never know if our actions, words, or prayers have had a positive impact on another’s life and that's ok, the end result is God’s responsibility. Our responsibility is to be faithful in sharing God's love through actions, words, and prayers; God will do the rest.
Debora Shelford Hobbs