And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people. -Leo Tolstoy
i am seriously convinced that we were put on this planet to take care of each other. from our first breath to our final one, humans are meant to take care and be taken care of. everyone. no one, not a single soul is exempt of this need. it’s how we were made. and when there is lack or deficit or neglect, something inside us dies.
two of my greatest heroes have taught this and lived out more of this than anyone else i’ve ever heard of. listen up.
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
Stop for the one.
Love the one in front of you.
…I found myself lying face down on a grass mat with the mother of a little girl who had died. I lay down with this woman and wept with her, holding her in my arms. It was then that God said to me “It’s about love. It’s not always about victory.” Our whole life cannot be about victory and glory – but it must be about love. Love is patient and kind and long-suffering. -excerpt from ‘The Hungry Always Get Fed’
it’s what we all know, and it scares the hell out of me to say it; but somewhere care has been lost. it’s almost obsolete, or at least so crazy rare like chivalry (which should be very alive and kicking if you ask me – but hey…..what do i know?) that when we do see it performed well it’s kind of shocking. unbelievable, almost. and we blink and rub our eyes like “wow….that was amazing.” ask any elderly person at a retirement center – they’ll tell you they’re not being cared for well. if kids could express themselves thoroughly, many would probably communicate where their care is lacking. i’d love to see a brain scan of my own kids – what they’re thinking, what they need, what they don’t need, how they see me, how they feel. i’d love to know when they sense they’re loved the strongest. and when they need love the most.
i have mentioned this before, and if you know me at all you probably know i am a verbal person. i’m totally willing to be wrong, but i kinda believe that actually everyone is. stay with me.
i take care of my two children. they’ve been entrusted to me, and i want to do the best job i can. not just to keep them alive (food, drink, shelter, etc…), but to assist them to thrive fully in light and love everyday of their lives. this, i have noticed takes an astronomical amount of verbal encouragement. Noah jumps off a step and says “Look Mom!” and I respond with “Woah!!! That was incredible! You’re so strong!” Sparrow eats all her mac-n-cheese and brings her empty bowl to me with sparkly eyes – why? cause she knows I am going to praise her chubby little face off. this is their fuel. my approval, my love, my respect, my praise, my encouragement. all. day. long. my children will (hopefully) grow up being nurtured and grounded in love because of the verbal care i try my best to administer everyday.
here’s my point. i know i’m a verbal person. it does worlds of good to my soul when i receive encouragement. or even when someone sits and sacrifices their time just to talk/listen to me. ((heart swell)) and whether you may know it or not, i honestly believe we ALL need this.
i’m a teacher. ask any teacher (especially primary and secondary) what is the strongest motivator for their students (besides treats) and i guarantee they’ll agree with me and say verbal affirmation, positive reinforcement, or better known as encouragement. think about the great teacher that you remember most growing up. the one who made an impression on you (a good impression). for me, there were a few. one was Mrs. Wagster – the choir and theater teacher at my middle school. because of her encouragement and investment into me, i actually overcame a very serious medical anxiety problem i had in middle school. because of Mrs. Wagster, i turned out to be someone who not only conquered the anxiety disorder, but i actually love being on stage. another was Mr. Hair, my 11th grade Algebra teacher. i am awful – just completely gross, awful at math and would have surely failed his class if he didn’t take time to tutor me after school. did i understand the algebra? not even a tiny bit, but his encouragement and investment in me kept me trying. he graciously gave me a C-, which was pretty much a miracle – but i’ll never forget his encouragement, sacrifice and verbal affirmation. ever.
it’s in our words that we can express a multitude of things. for my young children, i know that my words are their fuel. ”words create worlds” – Wittgenstein. positive words are the sunshine and water that will grow hearts into towering trees of life and beauty. but why do we suddenly stop giving verbal affirmation once someone is a “grown-up”? is it because the world is a cruel place and 99% of the people you meet in the real world aren’t going to blow sunshine up your ass? so you should stop needing it sooner than later, right? i disagree. i see that loving and caring for people well comes in the form of words and actions. if more people spoke life and light into those they came in contact with, or even just smiled – for God’s sake! the world would be a completely different place. no?
i know, i know……you’re thinking “well, sure jessie – that sounds so sweet and gross like a stupid fairy tale, but we’ve all been seriously burned by people’s words: our parents, our siblings, our coworkers, our teachers, our friends, our significant others – it’s impossible to erase hurtful things that have been spoken over us and just treat everybody with infinite care and kindness and speak with the sweetness of a cotton candy daydream to everyone we meet.” yeah, i know. i’m just saying….what if we did?
what if we did?
what if even a few dumb people chose to value and prioritize an individual’s heart rather than cling to their religious principles and paradigms? what if some crazy person made it a priority as a human being to just love the one human being in front of them – the best that they can? what if a few silly heads decided that differences and discrepancies in race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and financial status’ were secondary in comparison to a person fully knowing that someone cares about them; fully knowing they are loved – exactly where they are. no matter what they do or don’t do tomorrow or forever?
oh man……what the F would happen if we actually took care of each other? that movie Liar Liar comes to mind where Jim Carrey can’t tell a lie, and i imagine, what if we couldn’t not care. like it wasn’t a choice? that we walk by someone in rags or someone in a Gucci suit (same difference) who is starving for care and love and our only response is to provide it?! holy smokes! how different life would be.
i know a lot of people who call themselves “christians” make proclamations to live this way. but for a lot of these people the goal is more than just to give care and share love, they have other agendas – to get that person to become a member of their church, or to come to their Bible Study, or to get saved and be another notch on their belts, etc…. (i may get harassed for this but i am compelled to say it anyways….so there). i want to challenge this, guys. why does there have to be another agenda? why can’t we love just to love? (my heart is yelling this – if you can imagine me yelling this right now). we should take care of each other because it’s right and good and because we’ve been entrusted to each other to do just this! if someone was kind to me and then i found out later they were only doing it so i would join their home group, i’d feel scammed. think about it! think about it!
no hidden agenda. love to love. let God be God and do whatever He wants through the love and care we hand out. i mean…..c’mon guys second commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (The first of course being love the Lord). but does anyone else see this!?!!! There is NO greater commandment than these! getting souls saved is not greater. having a bigger congregation at your church is not a greater commandment. converting a muslim is not greater. judging the methed-out, metal-head kid in your neighborhood is not either. people, standing up for godly marriage is not a greater commandment than LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR!
yes i did.
love God. love people. number 1 and number 2. it’s not actually that tough. but somehow we have totally muddled it and gotten things completely out of whack.
i love Heidi’s excerpt above where she hears God tell her that it’s about love – it’s not always about victory. this might be one of the hardest concepts to grasp as a human. we want the victory. when we make an investment into something; someone, we want to see the fruit and light and life at the other end; the finished product; the redemption. but here’s something SO freaking contrary to that. it’s about love. we are simply asked to love well. and any control of the outcome: be it victory or tragedy is completely out of our hands.
this is clearly a pinched nerve in my soul and besides attempting with great faults to live this myself, my only other hope of seeing it in real life is to write it down and hope that someone, somewhere reads this and feels the gripping conviction i feel. (or if you want me to come speak at your home group…..) heh heh heh
we need to take care of each other. if no one ever took good care of you, or taught you how to care for others well, then go discover it. read books. volunteer to care for people in need. is it hard? duh. if it wasn’t tough or close impossible to do this, then everyone would be doing it. sheesh. of course it’s going to be hard! mercy.
I tend the wounded, and in the tending, wound.
Sometimes truly seeing another is lethal.
Loving fully, a bayonet.”
i like watching movies about the end of the world and zombie apocalypses and disease epidemics and wars and stories of survival. there’s almost always a very fine line in these films where what’s left of humanity either binds together to protect and care for one another, or they turn on each other and leave each other for dead. in congruence with liking these kinds of movies about survival, i like to play a stupid game in my head where i pretend to be in one of these movies, and think if it were real life, who would i want on my team? (i know – silly). but, i don’t choose celebrities, i think of real people in my life that would be good to have on team, to either protect me, stand up for me, take care of me, or just be a solid, trustworthy person to have at my back in a life or death situation. i say all this to ask…..who would you pick? and would anyone pick you?
we really need to take care of each other, guys. for no other purpose than survival.
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. -Og Mandino
When people care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul. -Langston Hughes
Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward. -Thomas Merton
We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act. -Charlotte Lunsford