Two weeks ago marked one year living in South Africa. The time has felt both extremely quick and also as though it has been an eternity. I have said this numerous times, but I have already learned so much this year (as much as I have learned while I was in college or more!). One of the most important lessons has been about the nature of Love, and the idea that love is not the same as pity. The following is imagery that I find helpful in understanding this:
Love is deep and moves deep. It knows that a person is deep and a person’s hurts are deep. Love does not force healing, but when it sees pain and brokenness it extends its arm. It not only applies the bandage, but examines the wound, removes the dirt, cleans the infection, offers and diagnosis, and performs surgery if needed – all the while holding the hand of the patient, counseling the patient, and asking the patient for permission to proceed.
Pity sees pain and acts out of fear. Pity wants to heal and wants to help, but has limitations on how far it will do so. Pity may clean the wound and apply the bandage, but if the wound becomes infected or doesn’t heal properly or in a timely manner, it is not pity’s fault. It believes that once it took the steps necessary, the patient (whom pity calls “the victim”) is responsible, although the patient’s history and medical background was not taken into account.
Pity wants positive results based on its own work. Love wants justice and healing, using the patient’s own body and knowledge as a source of understanding.