We've all been there before.
Feeling isolated. Stuck in the belief that our problems will never be solved and in our if-only's. Wondering if there is something wrong with us. Unable to function properly, and to stop wondering where we went wrong. Sad. Frustrated. Afraid.
Friend, we live in a world that is depleted with hope. We struggle to cope with loneliness, sadness, with anger, and with fear. From world crises to relationship issues, to personal well-being, every single one of us is dealing with a jumble of human emotions, to the point that it seems like we end up right where we started. Hopeless.
Maybe we ourselves can never untangle the jumble of emotions that each of us feels. But in a saddened world, what if we were to change our mindset? When hopelessness, loneliness, sadness or fear rears its ugly head, what if we were to do something world-changing?
What if we were to take the focus off ourselves to give all the love we can to other people?
A few days ago, I finished reading the book Everybody, Always (Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People) by Bob Goff. It taught me so much about how to live with the mindset of putting other people before myself, even when it's difficult. As followers of Christ, we don't need to have it all together (frankly, who does). In fact, we just need to remember the most important rules that Jesus gave us: love God and love others. It's that simple. And Bob Goff taught me that following these rules doesn't have to mean solving world hunger or finding the cure for cancer. Sometimes, following these rules just means showing love to the person next door. After all, these people may be experiencing the same hopelessness that we have experienced and may be in need of a hand up.
Today, I ask you, what if we were to face up to the challenge? What if we were to do something radical and love everybody, always?
Everybody? You might be asking. We can't avoid the fact that some people are difficult to love. But the way that I like to look at it, each challenging person is still a person, just like you and me. They are loved by the same God, and they are as in need of human love as you are. What if we were to show love to every person in our lives, including the relative who always seems to find fault, the girl who excluded us in high school, or the person who never texted us back? What if we were to do something drastic by crossing oceans for people, even when they don't cross a single puddle for us?
Showing radical to others means giving them our care, even when we don't feel like it. When we're dealing with our own jumble of human emotions, it can be difficult to look outside of ourselves. But by focusing our gaze on others, we remember that they, too, experience the same emotions that we do and want help. One of the best articles I have ever read about this was encouraging us to change our mindset from being a 'here I am' person to a 'there you are' person. When we realize that other people also desire attention and love, we can attempt to fulfill their needs, instead of waiting for our own needs to be fulfilled.
I know that my first year of college would have been very different had I looked beyond my own problems and concentrated on helping people with theirs. Maybe instead of waiting for someone to come along and help me, I could have helped other people. And I believe that if you are dealing with some personal difficulties, helping others is a great place to start. It may seem counterintuitive but giving to others what you need is often the perfect cure.
I'm not saying that loving everybody, always is going to be easy. I believe that it is one of the most challenging things that we are called to do. Yet regardless of our religions, standpoints or feelings, I believe that it is of the utmost importance. Each of us knows how dark our world is today, but each of us must realize our innate capacity to make the world a little brighter. I can guarantee, loving people radically and unconditionally will change you. It will not only give other people a hand up from their own hopelessness, but it will help you untangle your own jumble of human emotion. Let's start loving our neighbors today, even if they do not love us in return. Let's give our time to others, even if they would not give their time to us. Let's love everybody, always, even and especially when we don't feel loved ourselves.