Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2 (NRSV)
“Nola told me she loved me today.” This was our daughter’s speech therapist when my wife arrived for pick up.
“Yeah she’s doing that a lot right now. Just running up to everyone she knows to say, ‘I love you.’”
“I told her she could say, ‘I like you.’ I’m not one of her close people that she should say, ‘I love you,’ to me.”
“She works with you for an hour every week. I think she sees you as one of her close people.”
“Well, I just want her to be prepared.”
She didn’t need to say any more. My wife understood. As a speech therapist, Erica’s job is to prepare Nola to express herself in the world as it is.
To prepare Nola for a world in which words of love are meted out with caution, as if they were somehow shameful. To prepare her for a world in which classmates will laugh if she says those words too readily. To prepare her for a world in which partners will withhold them to gain the upper hand.
As her speech therapist, Erica is preparing Nola for the world as it is. But as her parents, we are interested in preparing Nola for a different world. The world as God would have it.
A world in which love is shared with friends and strangers and even enemies. Too readily. A world in which our circles of care grow wider and wider. A world in which it makes complete sense to run up to everyone you know and tell them, “I love you.”
Prepare us for your world, and let us live in it.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.