Love is the greatest – By Nkeiruka Osagie

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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love never fails.”

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest is love.’’ 1COR.13 This Bible passage is so famous and rightly so because love is truly a powerful thing. Time and time again I have seen how love has helped so many, including me, overcome circumstances that otherwise would seem insurmountable. A few months ago, I was at a workshop on mental health, it was a really lovely two – day workshop during which I learned a lot. It was worth paying a lot of money for, but praise God for the generosity of our government, everything, including many useful materials, were free. The facilitators were amazing, very knowledgeable and extremely engaging. It was fun learning from them.

The best part of the workshop was the time someone came to share about her personal experience of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have read about PTSD and watched a few shows on television about it, but never really fully understood the true impact of what it really meant. A certain lady was in in her home country when the war broke out in 1975. She was very young and with her family, they were all forced into the jungle.

It was a horrific three years for the whole family and so many others. The communist soldiers who took over their country were extremely brutal, they killed and maimed people. There were landmines all over the place. People died from hunger and diseases with

no medication and adequate food.  Sometimes, they slept under dead bodies for three days just to escape from the soldiers. They would hide under the dead bodies to make the soldiers believe they were  dead. Body parts were sometimes scattered and splashed all over the living as the landmines exploded as they ran.

Fortunately, her family eventually escaped and went to a refugee camp in Indonesia from where they were rescued and brought to Canada. It is hard to imagine how fellow countrymen could inflict such hardship on their own people because they wanted a communist country. To cut the long story short, she resettled in Canada and was so happy to live in such a beautiful country, free and safe. She later got married to her sweetheart whom she met at the Refugee camp. It took six years for her to begin to have serious health challenges that were later diagnosed as PTSD.

One day in the evening, she was making dinner, when she looked out the window at the beautiful oak tree she loved so much and instead of the leaves she saw dead bodies hanging on the tree. That was the beginning of her trauma. That first day it happened, she hid under the bed and waited for her husband’s return. On getting home, she told him she saw dead bodies on the oak tree, he said nothing, he did not tell her it was her imagination, he just grabbed her and held her tight, all he said was “I am here and will be here always for you”.

The next day, he called the office and took two weeks off to attend to his wife. That singular action of unconditional love was the best medicine and therapy she could have received. He loved and supported her when she needed him the most. He was patient and gentle. His love was unconditional. At the beginning, they did not know what kind of illness it was, they had never even heard about PTSD. They just knew something bad was happen

ng again and she was in the war. It was completely real to her. She would hear voices of her dead friends injured and calling for help. She would see their faces like the whole thing was happening again and she was in the war. It was indeed completely real to her. She could not go anywhere. Several years down the road, she says what really helped her overcome and heal was the undivided love and complete devotion of her husband. He was there for her, he loved her completely, and he constantly reassured her she will be fine. He was there with her at night when she could not sleep; when she heard voices of the dead he was there to reassure her she will be fine.

Gradually, she began to get better. Eventually, when she was able to see a psychiatrist, he confirmed she would not need medication and would continue to cope and heal. This is the same illness people have and they have to go on serious medication and therapy sessions to help them cope. Today, she can tell her story and help other people who are also suffering. She volunteers her time at the community agency supporting families dealing with mental health issues of a family member. The more she helps others the more she heals.

Truly the greatest thing is love, when we feel loved it has a way of empowering us. Love gives us hope and strength we otherwise feel we do not have. It gives us the courage to overcome so much travails of life. Often when you see people who are ill those who feel loved and cared for are more likely to do better.

Children who are held and cuddled fare better than those who do not regularly receive that physical show of love.  Knowing that we are loved unconditionally motivates and lifts us to heights we never thought we were capable of climbing. May we continue to love unconditionally no matter the circumstances of life.



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