Love one another: A simple message reaches wide audience in turbulent times

Posted 12/22/17

A curious advertisement has appeared in several issues of The Tennessean newspaper this month. The message “thy will be done” is printed in white on a black background.

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Love one another: A simple message reaches wide audience in turbulent times

Posted

A curious advertisement has appeared in several issues of The Tennessean newspaper this month. The message “thy will be done” is printed in white on a black background.

Though the ad contains no further explanation or identification, it is clearly the handiwork of 96-year-old Shirley Bachelder, the sweet, wrinkled face of the “Love One Another” movement.

Bachelder first delivered her simple, direct message to the masses in 2015 when she was featured in a two-minute spot on WSMV-TV in Nashville.

Members of Bachelder’s Sunday School class at Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee contacted reporter Terry Bulger at the station about helping her complete one of the final items on her bucket list.

Some of the goals that she had already checked off the list included going to college (she earned an art degree at age 60) and riding in a hot air balloon (an adventure she took at age 93).

At the time of Bulger’s visit, Bachelder felt God urging her to put a five-second commercial on television.

“I said, ‘That’s gonna cost a bundle,’ and the Lord came back and said, ‘If you have to mortgage your house, I’d like you to do it.’ In other words, it was very important to him,” Bachelder told The Huffington Post after Bulger’s story ran.

According to Bachelder, God was also very specific about what the ad should say — “love one another.”

The message appeared at the end of the news segment exactly as she had envisioned it, white on a black background.

Not only did the ad run at no cost to Bachelder, but it also attracted attention from a variety of media outlets.

Cynthia Zordich was one of the many people touched by the message when it showed up in her Twitter feed. In August 2015, she drove from Michigan to Franklin, Tennessee with her daughter to help turn “love one another” into a print and video campaign.

After meeting Bachelder, Zordich reached out to Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising and asked if the company would consider donating a billboard in the Nashville area.

Instead, the Lamar execs agreed to display “love one another” on 21 billboards around Nashville.

This time, the message was accompanied by a black and white image of Bachelder’s smiling face.

In her hair, she wore her signature “gratitude garland,” which some people refer to as her halo. She uses the arrangement of flowers as a daily reminder to give thanks for her blessings.

The billboards brought a new wave of attention for Bachelder, who seemed to have the time of her life visiting each one and taking selfies with passing motorists.

In several interviews, Bachelder admitted to feeling guilty about her time in the spotlight. It was God’s idea, after all.

However, as violence and conflict dominated the headlines last year, she must have sensed that she was being used to remind as many people as possible that love would see us all through these dark times.

Bachelder practices what she preaches. In interviews conducted over the past two years, she has given several examples of times that she showered someone with God’s love.

In a 2015 blog post, Zordich shared the story of how Bachelder used to take a young boy out for ice cream after his parents’ divorce.

He swore and sometimes lied, but Bachelder did all that she could to counteract the anger that was consuming him.

Years later, she tracked him down and found out that he was a deacon in his church.

“I don’t know if I was the reason, but I’d like to think I started the turn,” Bachelder told Zordich.

That last phrase reminds me of the book that I have been reading with Wyatt this year, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

When I asked Wyatt for his thoughts on the Herdman children, he said, “They’re bad.”

Though it was a pretty common assessment and hard to dispute, I took the opportunity to explain that there is a difference between being bad and doing bad things.

The narrator’s mother is the only one in the church who seems to understand that. By the final chapter, it seems clear that she has started a turn in the Herdmans’ life by allowing them to experience the Christmas story firsthand.

With a new year just around the corner, the time seems right to consider turns we need to make in our own lives and to look for opportunities to help others do the same.

Bachelder has already told us how to get started — love one another.

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s features editor.