By Olivia Shivas

1 John 4:9-11 NIV 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

When I was four years old my great-aunt made a teddy bear for me. The bear had light brown fur, a pink bow around its neck and a little flower in its ear. I called her Honey. 

Image of a worn teddy bear with one eye missing and a pink bow around its neckHoney went everywhere with me as a child – I cuddled her to sleep and she came to church camps with me, and to sleepovers at friends’ houses with me too. She needed repairing when her head broke off once, and my grandmother helped patch up the material on her hand when it started to wear thin. But I loved her just the way she was. 

Despite all her wear and tear, she’s still very precious to me; she still sits at the top of the wardrobe in my old bedroom at my parent’s house. Although I could buy a new teddy bear that’s shiny and new, I’d still choose Honey. 

When I think about how much God loves me, it’s a bit like how special Honey is to me. Yes, I am imperfect and tattered in some places, but Jesus would prefer me that way and loves me just as I am. 

He loves us so much that he would sacrifice his perfect only son to forgive the sins of a person like me. When you love something or someone so much, like I did with Honey, of course you would do anything for them.

So my thought for this Easter is a reminder of how much God truly cares for you, and how can we respond to that love? In my own life, I want to love others and model the way Jesus treated others when he was on earth. He loved others by serving them and had grace for all people. 

If God can so freely love me, I should be able to love others the same way.

Olivia Shivas is a reporter at Stuff, covering disability issues. In 2021, Olivia received two Attitude Awards including the Supreme Award in recognition of her advocacy work. Olivia volunteers her time and talents at our camps and in several projects for Elevate.