"If we love one another,
God abides in us,
and His love has been perfected in us"
1 John 4:11-12
I went to a funeral today, for a distant cousin. I think. I have a pretty big extended family, and it's hard to remember exactly how I'm related to everyone I'm related to. So if I see them at get-togethers, or exchange emails or phone calls with them, they're cousins. If I only see them at the annual reunion and at funerals, then they are "distant" cousins. So this was a distant cousin.
I think he was about in his fifties, but I'm not sure. I saw him seldom, and when I did, we didn't really talk. He was mentally disabled, although that wouldn't necessarily have stopped me from having a conversation with him ( I have two other semi-distant cousins who are also mentally disabled, and I have no trouble talking to them.) I just never had much opportunity.
But I was struck by something that was said at his funeral today. His mother, sister and one of his brothers was there (his father died only a matter of months ago) and during the eulogy, the speaker thanked the people at the home where my cousin had lived for much of his life. It was a place dedicated to helping mentally disabled adults to live as full as life as possible ~ education, possibly a job, activities, hobbies, etc.
I thought about all the people at that home ~ employees and volunteers ~ who had served to make my cousin's life all that it could be, and I thought about what that must have meant to his parents. Three of their four children were born disabled, so they must have relied heavily on all the resources possible to help them raise them. And I thought, "how do you express the level of appreciation you must feel towards those who help you with your children?" I mean, I greatly appreciate all the coaches and teachers my kids have had through the years, but that's not much compared to what's necessary to help in a family with three disabled children.
The fact is, God has put a circle of love and support around each of His children. He doesn't need help, like my great-aunt and uncle probably did, but He has given us the gift of loving and serving each other. Teaching, guiding, lifting, loving, supporting.... how many people are there who have helped you become who you are? And who does He have in your life to grow you further? And in whose life has He placed you, to make a positive impact?
God gives many gifts to each of us, and many of those gifts, are people.
~ "Share one another's burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ" ~