Erika Cotton Boyce is the senior director of public engagement for Habitat for Humanity International. She is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Read her Advent reflection below:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:12-15
A few months ago, as I was putting my then 9-year-old son to bed, he propped himself up against the headboard and said, “Mom, you make me feel safe.” It is hard to express in words the overwhelming joy I felt in that moment. I simply hugged him and said, “I’m glad.”
A significant role Habitat for Humanity plays in the lives of the people we serve is helping to ensure that parents are able to provide their children with a safe place to call home. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “safe” as meaning secure from threat of danger, harm or loss. It can also mean being seen as trustworthy and reliable. Feeling safe is a basic human need. It represents the second tier of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs; food, water, warmth and rest represent the first.
In our work to help others, we must also be cognizant that we rely on one another to carry out Habitat’s mission. Kindness, compassion, gentleness, patience and forgiveness, as Paul the Apostle says in Colossians 3:12-15, are the strands that make up the fabric of peace, safety and well-being. This Advent season, consider the ways in which leaning into the kind of love God has called us to practice in our lives and interactions with others will help unify us toward our common goal.
Heavenly Father, Your word says to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We thank You for demonstrating what this love looks like through the soul-saving gift, grace and mercy of Your presence in our lives. We ask that You continue to keep us safe as we soften our hearts to make sure that we provide safe harbour for those around us — our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours — and especially those in need. Amen.