[Originally published October 4, 2014]
I pulled out the strange and soft purple chair from the folding table and sat down amongst a sea of people I had never met.
As I scanned my surroundings, my eyes landed on a young couple seated next to me and within seconds a beautiful friendship began. Over the next year and a half we would create dozens of inside jokes together, laugh until our sides were racked with pain, and become a weird and awesome family.
They were my people. And then in one day, they were gone.
My phone calls and text messages were never returned. I wrote a long Facebook message that no one replied to. No discussion, just an abrupt and painful end. A door slammed and the dead bolt thrown securely in place.
I’m not innocent in it at all. In fact, I blame myself more than anyone, as I do in most situations. Yet all these years later, I still feel the lingering side of effects of people who have left my life without saying goodbye, who in an instant decide their life is better without me.
I can think of at least a dozen times I have lived out this story, going back to my own Dad. My heart is so burdened with this pain I’ve realized I don’t trust words from anyone. Again and again I’ve listened to acquaintances say they want to be a part of my life and never show up or claim to want to invest and mentor me but never follow through. And the ones that do tend to move far away.
My heart is so burdened with this pain that I’ve realized I don’t trust words from anyone.
The truth is the more you love someone the greater the devastation you’ll feel when they’re gone. Yet, I believe God calls us to let people in even when there are no guarantees. You can choose to live your life keeping everyone at arms length or you can recklessly love people as God loves us. The Big Man knows full well you could turn your back on Him in an instant, yet his love endures forever. That’s the type of love we’re called to, a selfless love that trusts in the unknown.
You can choose to live your life keeping everyone at arms length or you can recklessly love people as God loves us.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”-John 13:34-35
I hope with all my heart that you will be bold enough to spend every day on this planet loving and serving people from the depths of your soul. When you meet someone new, offer to help them move and help them paint. Bring them a meal and share your story.
Be honest and present with them. Laugh until your sides hurt.
Sure, if it ends it’ll hurt like umping without a nutcup, but after awhile, after you get some perspective, you’ll realize just how beautiful it can be to love and forgive people for exactly who they are. And when you get to the end of your life and you ask yourself, “did I love enough?” I hope you think back to all the laughter and the tears and smile knowing you did.
The truth is our lives are not measured in wealth or accomplishments, they’re measured in love.
That’s why we’re here and that’s all that really matters.
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