God only knows what you’ve been through. Any of us. Oh, we can tell stories or write about it. We reveal the scars on our spirits and the state of our hearts with our lives, what we say and how we treat ourselves and others. But none of us can ever really know what you’ve been through or are going through because we don’t live inside your skin and we have our own hearts and minds and spirits. Those are enough to contend with!
We can have an idea, but we can never really know. And so the words, “God only knows” are true and remind us that we don’t get to judge or criticize the other for the way they behave. It’s not our place; it’s not our duty; it’s not needed or requested. God doesn’t need our help. We are, actually, required only to love our neighbor. ALL of our neighbors. And Jesus so keenly explains to us who our neighbor is in his parable of the Good Samaritan. (See Matthew 22:34-40; it’s in Luke’s and Mark’s Gospels, too, but Matthew’s my personal favorite!)
It’s anyone in need of love. And, guess what? That’s everyone! They may not be lying bloody and unconscious on the side of the road, but everyone is need of love. And so many don’t know that they are loved by the God who created them. They don’t know the love of a parent or a friend, in many cases. Some people can’t tell you or even show you how they feel about you. Or they don’t know they should tell you or were never shown love so cannot give that to others.
So, it’s our job to love our neighbor who could be our spouse or a child or a parent. To want what is best for someone else, no matter if I get anything back, is true love. It is selfless, sacrificial. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” in the beautiful words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.
You might say that kind of love, authentic love of others, is foolish, reckless, unwise. Why? Because you are surely going to get hurt if you love like that. Exactly. Sacrificial love always hurts. Ask an engaged parent; ask a faithful spouse, ask a good friend or involved teacher. A person who loves is exemplifying God’s love for us, Christ’s love for us. Even if they don’t know it. You should tell them, incidentally, if you see that kind of selfless love from a non-believer. Tell them, “That’s how God loves you!” and “That’s what Jesus did for us and then some.” He gave everything for us.
True love is given without any conditions, no grudges for giving up things just because you want that person’s happiness, health, growth, safety, salvation. That’s the love that God is and that He gives us. And because He loves us more than we could ever fathom, He weeps when we cry out in pain or exhaustion or fear. He laughs when we laugh in genuine joy, the fruit of the spirit kind of joy, and not in mirthless mockery.
Because God alone knows what we experience in our core, what shapes us, what is etched in our souls. And He is the only one who can carve something beautiful there, something peaceful. So let us pray to the God who knows us better than we know ourselves, who understands our struggles and our failures, who wants nothing for us but to see us overcome and reach the goal that is Heaven.
Many don’t know Him and so they don’t know what they’re doing that is so harmful to their neighbors, themselves, and to God. To paraphrase St. Teresa of Avila, Christ has no body on earth but ours. God planned it that way. He doesn’t need us or our assistance, but He wants it, which is the best news ever! It’s always better to be loved and wanted then loved and needed, because the latter isn’t really love. It’s just dependency.
Maybe we tell those who are lost and don’t know that we are called to be independent and free within the Love that is God. He loved us into being and loves us every second of our lives and beyond. He knows our hearts and that can be terrifying! But not if we give our hearts over to Him. He will forgive us anything if we’re truly sorry and He will heal our woundedness. Our suffering will end in that moment.
Yes, God alone knows, and that is very good. But He gave us eyes to see, and hearts to love so that we can be Christ for others. God knows that and, if He’s given you that knowledge, you can’t do nothing. We don’t have to save the world. We just have to love our neighbor…