4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13, NIV)
Growing up this was always my favorite bible verse. I used it as part of my senior baccalaureate speech and in my wedding vows. These past few years this passage has offered me an even deeper level of strength, encouragement, and comfort while walking alongside my sister as she battled cancer. Shortly after her diagnosis, my sister renewed her commitment to Jesus in a very personal and private experience.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned in my recovery is how selfish I was. This interfered with all of my relationships, friends and family. My recovery journey began prior to her diagnosis. Although I stumbled many times, my sister practiced patience with me and loved me unconditionally.
God has a plan for each of us and that includes timing of life experiences. I am thankful every day that my recovery was in place before my sister got sick as I was able to be there for her. I lived each moment with her, shared every experience, laughed when times were good, and shed many tears of sadness. My selfish days were behind me, and I could focus fully on how much I loved my little sister. She was my rock for so many years; it was my turn to be her foundation and strength.
My sister was a writer. Two months before she passed away, during one of her sleepless nights, she wrote me a letter that I found on my kitchen counter the next morning. Here is a small excerpt of her letter:
“I want to thank you for your absolutely steadfast and undying support to me during all of these unforeseen and unpredictable curve balls that we are getting. I do not know where you muster the strength. I know it has been tough on you but it is easy to be here in your home, here with you, my big Sissy. I love you more than anything.
Appreciate your life, be good to yourself, be great to others. Make peace with what burdens you. Don’t harbor resentments, learn to forgive and move forward with a happy spirit. Do not take anything for granted or feel a sense of entitlement. Life is a gift; your body is a gift. Don’t get all caught up in planning your future while forgetting to enjoy today. The fact is, right now, this minute could be your only future.”
It was my sister’s final poem—how beautiful and inspiring! She could have written this for CR and all of us who believe in recovery whole-heartedly.
I mustered my strength, as my sister wrote, by working my 12-step program, and leaning on Jesus’ healing power. That made it easier for her too.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, a day known for love, take this opportunity to consider those you love and show them a selfless act of love. It will bless you both.
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.