Our friend Olive makes people feel precious. She makes me feel precious. She shares her heart with me and she listens to mine. I should slip her picture into my Bible at the opening:
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
Olive and I have done lots rejoicing and weeping together.
I love how she tears up when she tells me about a problem in the life of someone she loves, because it reveals her precious tender heart. She has honed her skills at loving God and her fellow man. One time when she was here for a visit, I showed her the photo books I had made for each of our grandchildren for Christmas. That visit was four grandchildren ago, so there were four books—each 71 pages long and filled with hundreds of pictures. I suggested that she look at only one of them. But that is not Olive—she looked at every page of each of the books. She didn’t just look. She enjoyed looking. I was touched by her love.
We people are hungry to share our lives with those we love. God knew that when He told us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. He is with us always, but He made us so that we also need flesh and blood to rejoice and weep with us.
One of the keys to loving our neighbors as ourselves—and of teaching our children to do that, especially by our example—is to weep and rejoice with our children and with others. It is easy to judge the person who needs us to rejoice and weep with him. If they rejoice at something we don’t think is particularly special, or if they weep at something we think is no big deal, it’s tempting to make light of the situation. Doing that makes the other person feel lonely.
One way truly to love another is to match: not only to match their feelings, but to match the intensity of their feelings. We may be tempted to tell a sad child that his issue is no big deal while forgetting that it is a big deal to him—even if it is only that his block tower fell down. We may be tempted to do that when a very different “tower” falls down in the life of a teen or an adult, too.
Sometimes we think we are too busy to hear another person’s heart. Sometimes we let our own finely-honed thoughts that seem logical to us—or our own hurts and struggles—get in the way of meeting another’s emotional need. Sometimes we judge another’s feelings as unworthy—not in so many words, perhaps, but sometimes that message is loud and clear without our words. It happens when we aren’t careful to match both their feelings and the intensity of those feelings.
Ouch! That’s not very kind when we step back and think about it, is it? Have you ever shared joy or pain with someone and then wished you hadn’t because you felt worse after you shared than you did before? We certainly don’t want to do that to other people.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
Thank you for being that kind of friend, Olive.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor . . .