I've been companioning this homebound chronically ill woman for a few months now, and during our last call at the end she said "I love you, Katie."
This poor woman has no family left, they've all died, and she talks to no one but me and her medical professionals. It's a deeply sad situation of loneliness and desperation.
She is a faithful woman. She reminds me to cling to my faith in illness and affliction, and look forward to eternal life. She is a woman of hope that this earthly suffering we experience is not all there is.
I said "I love you" back as a natural impulse, like I do whenever someone says they love me. Of course, it was "sisterly" and companion oriented love. But she started to cry -- she was deeply touched.
It made me think about how we never know how much some people just need to hear the words "I love you" -- and how much it means to them. Who knows how long it had been since someone told that woman they loved her? She needed "God with skin on" telling her she was loved.
We all need that.
Look around your life. Look around your church. Look around your community.
Who needs to hear those words? Who deeply needs a neighbor loving them?