"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." John 13:34
My aunt shared an article with my dad who then shared it with me and now I'm sharing it with you. The message is amazing...so very applicable to our world. One day at a time, one person at a time, we can make this world a better place through unconditional love and support.
Regardless of our ethnicity, circumstances, preferences, and so on, we need each other. Not all of us are prepared to admit that or not. So when you can free up some time in your busy day, find a comfortable corner and read this article. Let it ruminate. Relatable? For me, most definitely.
This article is a powerful excerpt from the book Show Up: Step Out of Your Story and Into Someone Else’s (Dust Jacket Press, 2016) by David Staal.
Loneliness is a large and growing problem. God said in Genesis 2 that it’s not good to be alone, and that truth remains unchanged. Data continues to pile up that proves God’s point. Go figure.
Good news: Every church has the solution. But do they know?
Although we’re hardwired to connect, our society has gone wireless. Why? Look no further than busyness. It’s like a firewall that prevents one person from noticing what’s happening with another person.
Yet, when given the chance and a calorie of forward motion, compassion knows how to outmaneuver complexity. I had to take a trip to Haiti to figure this out.
While there, our missions team assisted local tradesmen rebuilding homes an earthquake tore down, ignored the chemical-warfare-like odor emanating from burning trash, and prayed for wind. We also visited an orphanage for several hours.
A week later, we returned home—but a part of me stayed in Haiti after someone ambushed my heart. No, I didn’t meet God in anything to do with the earthquake’s damage. No, He didn’t seem to appear in any smelly fires. And He certainly had no presence in the wind, or lack thereof. Instead, an unexpected sacred moment came in unusually quiet and unspectacular fashion. It took place at the orphanage when I met a Haitian boy no older than three.
Without a doubt, the American team brought joy to the orphanage. Partially from the beachballs and bottles of bubbles, partially from the small candy packs, and mostly from our group’s high spirits, the result of a day spent away from the construction site. Despite the appeal of revelry, one little boy drifted off to sit alone, under a tree and against a wall. The truth is that people who most need someone to show up for them very often appear a step or two away from all the action.
I barely noticed him as I chased a ball kicked out of a lively scrum that bopped and booted anything inflated and brightly colored. A shallow drainage ditch separated the quiet plot of shade he occupied and the rest of the compound. Maybe it was curiosity caused by his tears; maybe it was a Divine nudge. Who knows—but I rolled the ball toward the crowd, turned away from them, and made a long stride across the trench to sit down next to the little guy.
The only Haitian-Creole words I know include my name, age, and how to ask for the nearest bathroom. He was only three and rightfully knew no English. Good news: to show up for someone doesn’t require clever words. Or sometimes, any words at all. Silence is so under-appreciated and under-utilized.
With all the fun going on all around him, why did he feel so sad? No easy answer came to mind. So I thought about his life. This beautiful little fella arrived in the world like everybody else, but his life took a very different turn. To live in an orphanage means he spends every day with a lot of people but doesn’t have parents. He has to compete for attention, and the competition looks stiff. Real young, real small—he’s probably overlooked a lot. From watching how the kids interact with one another, he definitely experiences a lot of injustice within these walls; in games, in meals, and in life overall. With nothing to call his own, he finally has a fun-looking beachball kicked his way, only to have someone take it right away. Countless scrapes, putdowns, and pushes out of the way. This is not the way life is supposed to work. No mom to hold him. No dad to defend him. No one to rely on. No wonder he was sad.
His life brought tears to my eyes, too, so I scooched closer. There we sat, under a tree and against a wall next to a ditch full of stagnant grey water, tears streaming down our faces. Unable to communicate but clearly able to connect at a level deeper than any conversation could ever flow.
With eyes fixed on the drainage swill, his hand grabbed hold of my little finger and squeezed. Not the grip of someone trying to inflict pain. Rather, the clutch of someone sharing pain and not wanting to let go of the one person who noticed. Eventually, maybe four of five minutes later, he popped up and before I could even shift my weight to stand, he let go of my finger and wrapped both arms around my neck. Definitely the best hug I’ve ever received.
He took a half step back, and as we both wiped tears off our cheeks, a grin appeared and his eyes went bright—as if a window shade abruptly rolled open to reveal full sunshine. As quick as a bullet, he ran toward the crowd and the chaos, reloaded for fun.
It’s easy to watch people from a safe distance. It’s easy to fear speaking the wrong words or feel too busy. It’s easy to do little or nothing, or to stay safely within the walls of what’s familiar and comfortable. The people held down by loneliness rarely lift up their voices to ask for help. If we wait until asked to show up for someone, the wait will run long. In most cases, such a request will never happen. It’s hard to make a personal difference from a distance—even when the separation measures only a few steps.
Money will not fill the gap. The orphanage receives strong financial support. They possess plenty of toys, food, and a sturdy structure. But all that made no difference in the moment with my little friend. His was a more basic need, felt by more people than you and I can comprehend. What he needed most is something everyone can do: anyone can care enough to sit down and stay a moment. Even me.
Was the direction of his life altered that day? Nope. That’s not the point of this story. In the process of an act as ridiculously simple as a shared moment of time and attention and reaction to his life, my little friend opened my eyes to what the world needs most—people willing to show up for one another. No process to follow. No expectations. Not even effort to fix the situation. Meet him where he’s at regardless of where I’ve come from.
Loneliness is a hole people find themselves in, for whatever the reason. I’ve been that person enough to know the only solution: someone willing to show up and extend a hand—or even just a pinky.
There are no intro words to adequately describe The Stay at Home Chef Rachel Farnsworth's message. We can all relate to at least part of her message...inspirational and humbling.
Cred: The Stay at Home Chef Rachel Farnsforth
This morning I was trying to help my dad by pulling all the bins and yard clippings bags to the curb for tomorrow's trash and recycling pick up. Everything was going just fine, though I was a bit self conscious having not had a shower and looked a bit like a brunette Einstein, i.e., the wild hair.
So what happened? The last bag of yard clippings was particularly chock full of twigs and such and so I had to drag it down the carport and onto the street. Suddenly the bag seemed to take on a life of its own, pulling me down to the ground. It was a spectacular fall in the street, curbside. The valiant fight with the yard clippings bag was one that I lost.
As I have no muscle strength due to inactivity (Thank you, Chronic Lyme Disease...NOT!), I caught myself in a tangled mess and was about an inch from a total face plant...God gave me that strength. No head injury. Glasses unharmed. But my shoulder, wrists, knees and feet took some damage. And I was so frustrated that my new mutant blue pedicure got messed up...I know, priorities, right? :-P
But as I walked back to the house, I wondered...why did no one help me? It wasn't an "I'm feeling sorry for myself" moment, rather, it was a sad curiousity. I had clearly fallen on the pavement and was struggling to get up. Vehicles passed by. What happened to the good Samaritans of the world? It was God who picked me up from that tangled mess, that I am certain. But it still saddens me that no one even slowed down long enough to say "hey are you ok?" One doesn't have to be a Christian to know that basic human heart response.
When I'd cleaned up, I re-read Jesus' parable on The Good Samaritan. The parable is found in Luke 10:30-37 and is as follows::
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
It makes one think...
What do we do?
What SHOULD we do?
Pay attention to those around you. Get involved. Show unconditional love, compassion and mercy. Doing good for others is always a win-win. I know this experience was a good reminder for me. Perhaps it's a good heart-felt thought-provoker for you, as well.
As I mentioned on Facebook the other day, one thing I've learned is to never negatively judge based on first appearances. Technically we aren't supposed to judge anyway, but we're all human and if we're being honest, we ALL have this basic human fault. I've found it interesting getting to know people in my walk of life thus far. So try it. You might be in for a wonderful surprise as these unknowns could become lasting friendships. People--many of them--are awesome if just given a chance.
This morning I woke feeling exhausted and a bit sad. This is all too common in life with Lyme.
Instead of staying buried in those feelings, I decided I needed to hear a message on Hope.
I went back to Living Stones Church, to their 2014 archive, and found an awesome message of encouragement.
It's worth devoting time to listen to what God wants for each of us.
Video Cred: Living Stones Church
Message Cred: God
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