For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Special Olympic gymnastics coach. I’ve being doing it for as long as I can remember, and I can honestly say that it’s the best experience I have ever had. When I started, I was still a competitive gymnast at our gym, we only had a few athletes, and I had no idea how much my life was going to be impacted. Every time I’m with them, I learn something new. I remember clearly the first time I realized how much I could be learning from my kids. I was watching one of the twins do her beam routine, and I remember feeling so badly for her because she fell off three times. The gymnast in me cringed as I thought of myself in the same situation. I had completely prepared myself for dealing with tears by the time she landed her dismount. The crazy thing was, she didn’t cry. She was smiling as she came over, hugged me, and told me she loved me. That was the first time I really began to grasp that getting them to do perfect routines wasn’t why I was there. I was there to accept and love them, but the coolest part is that they were the ones who showed me how.
A few weeks ago, I read a blog post that a mother of two daughters wrote. She talked about how she started constantly telling herself, “Only love today.” I love that phrase so much, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to apply it to my life. I pretty much woke up every morning hoping to love that day. But to ONLY love was a much different story. The reality of the situation is that I am most likely never going to go through a whole day doing nothing but loving. I end up snapping at one of my brothers or making a sassy comment. I have, however, been trying. We think countless thoughts in a day, and I don’t think we realize how many of them are negative, not only to others but to ourselves. Every time one of those thoughts enters my head or exits my mouth, I remind myself “only love today.” I was trying to help myself “only love” by looking for Bible verses about how to love when I found 1 John 3:18. It says, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
I spent last week trying to determine how to replace my words of love with acts of love. I wasn’t making much progress until Friday night. After our athletes get done with practice, they get a stamp if they want one. I was walking down the line with the stamp and ink pad when one of the boys, Daniel, stopped me from asking, “Where do you want your stamp?” accompanied with a huge smile. (I don’t usually get a chance to work with many of the boys, so I don’t know much about him other than his name.) He asked me what my name was, and went on to ask, “Shannon, can I give you a hug?” As if that wasn’t enough to make me cry, it was the best hug I have ever received. And I finally understood “only love today” and how to love in truth and action.
There are going to be situations that I am never going to be able to find the right words for. There are going to be times when I won’t know what to do for someone. I just need to love them like Jesus loves them. Because maybe they don’t know how much He loves them, maybe they’ve forgotten, or maybe they just need to physically experience it. I’m not going to be able to fix everything,and I don’t need to know all the answers. I just need to use the love of Christ to carry them to Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Love is the only way we can be living examples of Christ. Love is the only thing that can heal all the pain in this world. Daniel just wanted to know my name and to give me a hug. But he did so much more than that with just a simple act of love. He reminded me that my only job is to love as a way of leading others to the love of Christ. So I’m only going to love. I’m not going to try to solve or fix. I’m going to do my best to only love today. And everyday.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24,