I spoke about returning from an awesome retreat. The experience was amazing.
But there was one thing that I came away with more than anything else I could have learned.
There is a saying that you cannot judge a book by its cover. It’s meaning is deeper than we realize.
In listening to the stories of each lady there, their pains and sorrows, their joys and hope, it made me realize something far deeper than the trite saying about judging a book.
It was a discovery of a missing element in our society – the discovery of dignity in each and every one of us.
Passing them by…
We tend to shallowly judge our fellow man. The one who lives on the street who smells aweful and runs around like he is insane. What is his story?
Or the young mother, starving in a tent, raped repeatedly by others at their leisure while she tries to escape her own private hell and protect her young children. What is her story?
Or the coworker who drives you crazy? The one who you think is obnoxious, has all the answers, makes you feel less that you think you deserve? What is their story?
We don’t know what drives anyone to be who they are. Nor do we understand what created their character they hold today. What is their background? Does anyone know?
More than that, does anyone care?
We drive by the homeless. And we try to undermine and get rid of the person who makes us uncomfortable.
We never take the time to find out what makes them tick.
And we don’t care to seek to help them find themselves wrapped in a Love.
The only thing we care about is our own creature comforts. Today we are missing our cream cheese for our bagels because the stores don’t carry it. No creamer for our coffee.
But down the street or in the town nearby, someone is missing breakfast, lunch, dinner.
When we find out, we write out checks to charities. That is good. They need the money to purchase the necessities for those less fortunate.
But is it enough? Are we willing to give ourselves away, our time, our abilities, to help those around us?
What I didn’t realize is that those lovely women who looked so complete, were living broken inside. They never forgot their past.
But they had something that most of the world doesn’t have.
They found their completeness, their whole self in a Love that surpasses the understanding of the world. And they came away, instead of with blame that God allowed something for their destruction, with praise for Him making them whole.
It is foolishness to the world. But it is total sanity to those who have lived the reality.
The word, “Love”, has been bandied about since the 1960’s. It’s true meaning has been all but lost by the desires of those who want to rewrite the meaning of words.
The word in Greek is “agape”. It is more than a filial love. It is far more than a perverted, animalistic lust and feeling.
It is a genuine Love that encompasses all the care and concern of and for another. Who are they. What are their deepest needs? What is missing in their lives that will bring to completeness?
We do not always have the answers for them. But we can lead them to the One Who Does.
He, the Creator of the Universe, created each and every one of us. We each have a reason for being alive today. He knows every one of our names.
And He knows all our pain. He lived through it, and was right beside us through it all.
And He is still right there, waiting to help us. If we but let Him in.
Many people who have gotten to the point of despair never look up before they do something irreversible. They surround themselves with those who encourage them to do the unthinkable. Those very people who are filled with hate and evil have embraced them. But they do not care about them. They are yet one more person they can control, filling them with hopelessness and the concept of victim hood.
Those who live as victims are the same who continually relive the past pains and injustices done to them or their loved ones. They see through the eyes of the world which has no understanding of life from any perspective but the transitory one.
It takes a community of people who have the heart of servitude that makes the difference. Those who reach out, learn about each person who it in pain. And wrap them in arms of sincere love for them as a fellow human being.
These are the people who matter to those who are hurting the most. They display what it means to truly love someone else.
The simple act of giving a smile to someone you think you dislike or want to ignore can be the difference between someone experiencing the heart of real concern and acceptance, and one who chooses the path of selfishness.
Think about the number of times coworkers belittle other coworkers for a trivial matter? What about the ones who live to find mistakes or errors in someone’s life, just for the sake of gossip?
They take immense pleasure in putting someone down. And usually it is because, deep inside, tucked away in some small corner of their heart, they have been belittled and cast aside by those closest to them.
I remember one young girl in my office who talked incessantly about those she didn’t like. She let loose on me, giving me the gory details about this “friend” as if the target of the discussion were the worst person on the planet.
Even though I tried to provide a different perspective about the person being discussed, it was ignored. So I began to wonder what she said about me behind my back.
It wasn’t much longer that I found out, as she told exaggerated stories to my boss about things I’d never done. And it hurt my position in the company.
But I never took revenge on her. The reputation she created for herself was beginning to show over the years. I could only pity the hurt she must have felt about herself inside.
Looking at others more closely…
When we talk to others, someone once said that if you cannot discuss the issue in front of the person about whom you are speaking, don’t say anything.
After that experience, I took it to heart.
Inside each one of us is a little child aching to be heard. That little person is waiting for a chance to be recognized for what they can offer to others.
They are waiting to be loved…
Will you be that person who will take the time to know your fellow man? Your coworker? The person on the street?
Will you be the one who will be willing to give that sweet smile to the person who barely glances in your direction because of the pain they carry inside?
Are you going to be the one who truly shows that you care?
Understand that we really cannot judge anyone by what we see externally. Every one of us has a pain, a sorrow, a loss that we have experienced.
And every one of us has something that we can share to someone else. Or is just waiting to be asked to use their talents. Or just to be recognized and loved.
Will you be the one who is willing to show that to another?
Or are you one who needs the community to help you through your rough times and lead you to the path of Light and Love?
It takes Love. More than that, it takes God’s Love through each one of us to truly love and accept anyone else.
Be that change that this hatred filled, greedy world needs.
Be so close to God that you cannot help but set His love afire in the hearts of those around you.
God can show you how. Be open to Him, and let Him lead you so that you can be that conduit through which He can flow into the most vulnerable.
Be like Him, willing and open to give His heart and His love to those around you.
Even if it is just a smile.