By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
How a handprint can teach us to love
I have a dear friend who semi-jokingly calls arguments with her husband a “growth opportunity,” and I’ve been reminded of that term so often in this season. We’ve had several growth opportunities in 2020. As a family, as a community, as a nation and as individuals as well. It’s been a weighty few months and, to be totally honest, I have all but dreaded writing this month’s article.
For some reading, I may say too much, and for others, I won’t say enough. Unfortunately, I feel like that’s where we are as a community in this season: afraid to say the wrong thing, afraid to offend, and I would be ignorant not to mention that many are simply afraid.
As a mother, I have prayed so deeply that God will reveal the right words for my littles during this season. As I see the unrest in our nation, God continually reminds me that change starts with me. In my heart and in my home.
I believe that in God’s sovereignty, our hurried way of living was brought to a screeching halt so we could begin to examine who we are as humans. The pandemic set the stage for us to ask ourselves, “Who are we?” and “What do we believe?” on the heels of a collective cry for justice and equality in America.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned in my gospel journey? It’s. Not. About. Me.
Of course, in the poetic paradox that is the message of the gospel, it has to start with me.
Believers are being forced to reckon with our own hard hearts; with our fears and our tendency to dismiss and ignore what doesn’t directly impact us on a daily basis; with our need for repentance and a Savior. Now more than ever, we cannot and must not fall back into comfort and old ways of fast-paced living.
We must face our own sin and generations of sin before us head-on. We cannot and will not be able to do this on our own. Our words and intentions will continually fall flat if we are not having conversations that are rooted in the truth of reconciliation and healing through Christ alone.
At some point in Young Life ministry, I started having students write letters to their future selves. I got the idea from my orientation-leader days at Mississippi State, and have kept it a tradition for my graduating seniors. This year, on a whim that could have only been the Holy Spirit, I had them trace around their hands and answer the question: “Who am I?” on the front of their letter. I asked them to recall what they (hopefully) had been taught over the years about who God says they are.
As they wrote the words on paper, it struck me that this might be an effective way to help Mary Thomas learn that the way God created us in Genesis, and the words He empowers us to become throughout scripture, point us to how we should treat others.
When answering who God says I am, I wrote words like LOVED, GRATEFUL, WORTHY, FREE, TREASURED, VALUED, FORGIVEN, ENOUGH, UNIQUE on my traced hand.
This craft turned into a way for me to show Mary how the love that God made us with is the same love He commands us to give to others.
Hopefully this will be a fun activity for your littles (or bigs) during this season of lots of questions and downtime:
Who am I?
I am His. I am forgiven and free. I am called to love. I am given the power of the Holy Spirit. I can find joy in knowing that I was created by God for a purpose.
How should I see others?
I see them as His. They are forgiven and free. I am called to love them — knowing that they, too, were created by God for a purpose. As scripture reminds me in 1 John 4, “We love because He first loved us.” All the rest is secondary to our first command to love God and love others.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the weight of the world and all that needs to change, remember that the light of the gospel starts in our hearts, carries into our homes, and is seen played out in our communities and in the world for generations to come when we put our affection for Jesus into action, even if it’s one handprint at a time.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 6 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 4 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.