Mission: Love ALL
There are many ways to explain how I have felt over the past year or two. Some seem too simple, some seem too detailed; some seem exaggerated and some are complete buzz-kill’s. Honestly, I never thought I’d be here. I may have hoped it, but didn’t actually think it would happen. I never thought I’d be living where we are with a litter of boys surrounding me. I never thought I’d be a church planter’s wife or a pastor’s wife. I never thought I’d be so loved and accepted by those whom I now call my dear friends. I never thought I’d walk down the street in a new place with such authority one minute and then with my tail between my legs the next.
There are many interesting things about living in Brooklyn, and something that has stood out to me is how this place makes me feel. It’s something that I need to grab a hold of and beat into submission some days though, because I don’t want to be shaped by what others may say about me, my kids, their behavior or the way I choose to parent them. I refuse to be defined by my socioeconomic status, (mom brain, did I spell that right? so.ci.o.ec.o.no.mic), age, gender, sexual orientation, who I voted for or what god I believe in. I also don’t want to define others by those same things that I refuse to be defined by. There are literally people from every walk of life living in this neighborhood of 80,000. People who have lived here their entire life whose grandparents were born here as first generation Irish, Italian or Norwegian. Refugees, who are dealing with the loss of homes and loved ones. Transplants, coming from all over the US, for a job or a dream. Europeans studying abroad or working overseas for a year (or five). There are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and although I’m not able to communicate their journeys, I can do my best to relate to their experience and appreciate their stories.
Over the past decade or so, I have come to realize that there is one thing that I’m supposed to do with my life, and that is LOVE PEOPLE. Period.
- Not love them if they believe what I believe.
- Not love them if they look like me.
- Not love them if they’re kind to me.
No. Love people regardless.
- Love people until I’m blue in the face.
- Love people through hard times and bad decisions.
- Love people by bringing over a meal when sickness plagues the house or a coffee when you know they’ve worked hard on a big assignment (or, better yet, for no reason whatsoever!).
- Love people by smiling and making eye contact as you walk past them on the street.
- Love people by commenting on an adorable video that was shared on Facebook.
- Love people by sharing wine and tears over heartache or trial.
I think we all need to take time out of our scheduled, ordered, structured lives and focus on someone or something else for a change, because if you don’t, what is it that you’re living for? Success? Popularity? Acceptance? Money? Power? It’s not that those things are inherently bad (quite the opposite actually, when channelled in the right way), but it’s when we take our eyes off of ourselves for a minute that we see that there are tender hearts underneath those business suits and damaged feelings beyond that smile. There are many things that each one of us has going on behind-the-scenes that others have absolutely no idea about because everyone’s too busy with their own agenda to notice. But here’s the thing, we need to remember that just because we’re wading through crap, that doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t wading in it too. Our problems don’t make someone else’s irrelevant. So how can we get ourselves out of that cesspool? I suggest that focusing some positive energy on someone else. Buy an extra coffee when you’re at Starbucks and see who you feel like you’re “supposed to” to give it to. Carry an extra $5 in your pocket and give it to the busker that you see at the subway every day. Look through your contacts on your phone and send someone a random, encouraging text (or three). The reality is that it’s often easy and not inconvenient to do things like this. Being kind isn’t usually a struggle, but REMEMBERING to be kind is key, so make a note of it. Write it on the calendar. Put it in your phone, and hopefully if it’s done often enough, it will become second nature.
Let me clear up any confusion right now; I don’t always do this well. I want to, but I’m not perfect. There are days when I’m busy or tired, sick or overwhelmed and I don’t follow up on a conversation the way that I should, I bail on a coffee date, or I don’t say hi at the park, but at the core of who I am is a deep desire to love people and let them know that they are important and valued. It’s a priority in my life, and there aren’t many other things that I do in life that are going to get in the way of that. I’m attempting to make my life well rounded, well-balanced and intentional, and if LOVING PEOPLE is at the core of that attempt, I think that’s a pretty good place to start.