The Word in the Wings
The Word in the Wings > From the studio: God’s love is…
From the studio: God's love is...
By: KAYA WEAVER
Glorify Dance Theatre’s new ballet, Chesed, premiers in less than two weeks (tickets available here)! To prepare for this performance, company artists and staff have been studying the character of God’s chesed and learning how God’s kindness empowers us to do chesed for one another. These are the stories several company members have shared about people in their own lives who have shown them chesed, forming a concrete picture of what God’s love is.
GOD’S LOVE IS GENEROUS
It was my senior year of college, and my parents decided last-minute that they would make the 14-hour drive down to Mississippi to see my senior dance concert. This was a model of unconditional kindness because it didn’t make logical sense that they would sacrifice that time and energy to watch me dance a 3-minute solo a couple of times. But they did, and we are all so grateful we got to savor that weekend together because that ended up being my last college dance performance.
One time a friend showed me true compassion and kindness. I was in college, I had a huge project that needed to get done, and I didn’t know how to finish it. I was freaking out because I wanted to do really well. I am not the type of person to ask for help when I need it because I always feel that I would burden someone. This friend took a generous amount of time to sit down with me and figure out ways to finish the project and make it amazing. They genuinely wanted to help me, and I didn’t even ask for help. I felt so humbled and grateful that this friend took many hours out of their day just to help me with a project for college that they weren’t even in. My heart was overjoyed, and I didn’t know how to thank them because I was overwhelmed with the kindness they had shown me.
GOD’S LOVE IS COMPASSIONATE
In the summer of 2009 I had recently broken up with a boyfriend and was feeling uncertain about attending a church program that he and I had attended together for a while. I went by myself anyway and noticed another young woman who looked familiar but I didn’t really know. So I walked over and asked if anyone was sitting next to her…she, too, was feeling lonely that night and welcomed me to sit and chat, thankful for company. As we left church late that night we had formed the beginning of what has become a lifelong friendship — I guess you could say we both experienced God’s chesed, and neither of us left feeling lonely that night!
The other week, my friend Madison sat across from me and described for the first time aloud her most sacred dream so that she could then ask mine. Her vulnerability opened a space for me to speak on callings that God has placed in my life that I have been suppressing because of fear. In that moment, she knew exactly what I needed and was willing to open up to provide the space for me to process some bigger feelings surrounding my dreams and sacrifices, as well as to allow for conversation about God’s provision and our trust in His plan for our lives.
GOD’S LOVE IS LOYAL
I was a shy eight-year-old and had just moved up to a more advanced ballet class that included preteens and teenagers. As soon as I entered the studio and looked around nervously at all of the older girls, one of them immediately called me over, introduced herself, and invited me to stand next to her at the barre. I had no idea that this sweet, friendly girl would become a dear friend of mine for many years. Although she was a good four years older than I was, she treated me as her equal, as a peer, and never looked down on me for being younger. It wasn’t long after I met her when she decided that I was going to be her “adopted sister,” and over the years we’ve continued to grow close. Her steadfastness is one of her standout qualities. Even when she went away to college, we stayed in touch because of her efforts to connect with me, and she has been faithful in guiding me as a sister in Christ. The times when we pray together are special, because she knows me well enough to read between the lines and understand exactly how a tough situation is affecting me, even if I’m vague in describing it. She also has been faithful in gently correcting me if she sees me behaving in a way that is not in line with how I want to act as a daughter of Christ – which is such a beautiful thing, even when it’s not always something I want to hear. I’ve definitely experienced chesed through this friend of mine, and I have been very blessed by it.
When I think of a love that is loyal, the memory that pops right into my mind is my mom when I was in college. I hated school and despite the fact that I did very well in every class, I constantly felt like I was failing, like I wasn’t good enough, like I wasn’t going to make it through. At no point during any of my dramatic phone calls wanting to drop out or meltdowns on Skype dates that I wasn’t going to succeed did my mom back down from her encouragement that I could do it; she listened and spoke truth into my mind that was believing lies. I could see her love for me and that it wasn’t going anywhere. That depth of loyalty and steadfastness in her love for me empowered me to push through something I didn’t think I could do and gave me a vivid picture for the incredible love that God has for me.
Having a baby is a huge life change; compound that with ever-changing job situations and a move from a one-level apartment to a three-story house and you have a perfect recipe for stress on your marriage. Throughout these changes, my husband Nick has remained confident that we will survive. That sounds dramatic, but over these past few months, he has had to demonstrate love towards me over and over in a way that takes courage and sacrifice, and I have had to do the same towards him. Through working on this ballet, we (five company members) were faced with the challenge of a piece counted in 5/8ths about enduring commitment, followed by the finale focused on steadfast love. In the process of rehearsing, Melody said something that stuck with me: “Enduring commitment is staying in it together, even when it is tough.” I took this sentiment home to Nick, and with it, we have been able to have conversations that have strengthened our bond and reminded us that we are able to have this love for one another because of the love God demonstrated towards us.
Opportunities to receive kindness often emerge from our moments of need and vulnerability. Opening ourselves to receive kindness from others and from God requires humbly recognizing our need and courageously letting someone else see it, trusting that person will respond not by exploiting our weakness but by covering it.
God sees humanity’s weakness in our mortality, and God has compassion on us because on our own we are subject to death (Psalm 103:13-16). Out of this compassion, the Almighty God has “emptied himself…being born in human likeness,” making himself subject to death in Jesus (Philippians 2:7-8). God’s ultimate kindness is to completely expose the divine self to all the shame, sorrow and death humanity is exposed to. Yet in so doing, God spreads a protective wing over us, delivering us from all of that shame, sorrow and death. Jesus shares in our death so we may share in God’s eternal life.
What’s your story? When has someone shown you kindness that reflects God’s generous, loyal love? When has someone shared in your vulnerability in order to share their strength with you?
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