It was a cold Iowa night when I received a phone call from a downtown hotel desk clerk telling me one of my church members was sitting on a ledge outside his tenth floor window. On my way I was trying to remember something, anything, that I had learned in the seminary to help me with this. After all that tedious theology and boring church history I came up with nothing. In a few minutes I was halfway out the window talking. I was doing lots of talking and getting nowhere. Finally in desperation I said, “But, Sid, I love you.” He turned and stared into my eyes and reached out his hand. Inside the warmth of the room he emptied a liquor bottle in the bathroom sink and said, “Thank you. I have not heard those words in years.” And there it was, the hunger of the human heart. The essence of life is learning to love and learning to receive love.
Years later I went back to school wanting to learn more about human nature and need. I wanted to know what to say to the heartbroken, frustrated, fearful people who came seeking guidance. I learned about Freudian, Adlerian and Rogerian psychology. After listening to countless lectures and sitting through endless groups, I never did hear anything more meaningful than what Jesus said to the woman whom the authorities wanted to stone. “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I realize it sounds too simple. Life is complex and the situations into which we find ourselves enmeshed seem so entangling one would think the only answer would be years of therapy. But once we cut through all the garbage and all the trauma and drama the answer is always the same. We need to be loved.
Written by Roger Bothwell on June 21, 2011
Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box 124, St. Helena, CA 94574