The world is in turmoil right now, like nothing I’ve ever seen in my 52 times around the sun. With quarantine fatigue, protests and rioting, continuing into day nine. People of color are tired of seeing their own racially profiled, mistreated, even killed. On social media, their stories are being told, their fears heard. We hold our breath and hope for change. Real change, not just words without weight.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
I grew up in the Midwest United States, a close community of family, friends and church. As I look back, I see only white people, very few people of color. I can not rewrite that childhood chapter of my story. But I can write the rest of the story.
I read a lot of news articles, blogs, social media posts… I see the call for action – from citizens, law enforcement change, for challenging ourselves in how we think, to even who we shop and support.
I feel helpless, sometimes I feel like its hopeless. But as a Christ follower, I have to realize I am neither. I wonder, what can I do. How can I do anything that can change the perceptions, change the way the world sees and acts.
Can I? Can something so big, start with someone so insignificant as me?
It can, yes. I can. God’s word tells me so. Thou shalt love the Lord thy a God, and thy neighbor as thyself. Its all wrapped up in one word – love. This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. This is just a couple of the many times we are told to love others, our neighors, our enemies. Love, Really?! you say…isn’t that a bit simplistic? No, I say…I don’t think so – insert smile emoji.
Love. How can I change the world thru love? I believe that everything God asks of us starts right in front of us. He gives us tasks, and then gives us greater tasks if we do the first. So if we want to change the word, where do we start…
Start where you are: Love the people right in front of you. First love the people in your four walls, your immediate family. Love them, fiercely, generously, make sure they know it, hear it, feel it – if you don’t who will? Love your neighbor – those next to you. Your actual neighbors. The people in your church, workplace, community.
When you love: When you walk into a room – home, work, wherever, is it with the heart of – There you are! not Here I am! Who are you all about? Are you more concerned with how you look, the impression you give? The name brand you wear or carry? What statement are you making when you enter the room, any room?
Do you genuinely look around the room and see the people? Not your people – not looking for your comfort zone, your place of refuge? It is not the self fulfilling need to gather those around me, who make me feel safe, admired, relevant and cool.
Love is when you see all the people. Young and old. Each for who they are – in all their wonderful, quirky, uniqueness. Seek out the one who is new, alone, uncomfortable. Look for the need. That is love. That tells you your heart in a heartbeat.
How you love: Greet and welcome. Look into their eyes, say their name. If you don’t know it, or don’t remember it, ask them. We all want to be known. Every person deserves the care it takes to be known for who they are, for who the Creator created them to be. And then listen. Listen to what they are saying, with their voice, with their body, with their eyes. Don’t listen to reply, don’t listen so you get to have your chance to speak. Just listen; ask questions; care.
Do you remember the last time someone showed love to you in this way – when you felt known. You felt someone saw, heard you, listened to you? And, do you remember the last time that you chose to live this way – when you deliberately saw, heard, loved?
When you love: I hesitate to use that term deliberate – I think it comes across like its ok to show love occasionaly, when you feel like it. This is not a random acts of kindness lifestyle, picking and choosing when and who to love. It is the deliberate act of our will to choose to live this way. And at times, a needing to remind ourselves to get back to living this way.
Such a simple challenge, but if we would wholeheartedly live our lives in this way – if we started at home, and then close to home, we would see the change. The change in ourselves. The change in our people. And we would see it grow, and multiply. We love and genuinely care for, then those would love and care for theirs, close to them, and on and on. Love grows, and changes the world one person at a time.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become 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 [ato be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, Believes all things, Hopes all things, Endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 nkjv
I memorized these words long ago, I was in a difficult season of life. Living the rejection of one I loved dearly. Every time I began to think and dwell on the hurt and unfairness, I would repeat these verses. I would put my own name into the place of the word love. It changed me. I found I could choose to love someone even when I didn’t feel like it. When I felt betrayed. I was able to face the reality that even when I was hurting, I could still be loving. Easy, no. Possible, yes.
Choose to love. Choose to show God’s love. You will see the world, the people, and yourself as never before. I hope these thoughts are small help.. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much for stopping by!