Some People Just Care…

…is number 26 on my January Jewels list. I’ve written this blog post at least six times, and it doesn’t matter what words I use or what order I put them in, I still can’t bring myself to understand the notion of someone caring without an incentive. That’s a wee bit sad. I’m so used to everything else, but the moment there’s a good-hearted person, I’m out here withholding information and testing the boundaries of any given situation. Backwards, right?

I wrote some people just care and thought about people in general and a surface kind of caring. Now I’m thinking about one person in particular—A, who I mentioned in A Friend Loves at All Times.

This isn’t a surface type of caring like someone saying, “Get home safely!” or “Text me when you’re home!” It’s more than that. It’s a type of caring that gives you locks and asks for frequent updates when your home has been compromised. It is a type of caring that calls for three reasons. The first one to ask you to describe your Bible study. The second reason to say that she figured that was the answer, so she bought you a devotional book. And the last reason is to read you a Psalm. It’s a type of caring that when met with the distress in my voice immediately responded with, “We’re going to lunch. What do you want to eat?” A is the definition of love does.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading Bob Goff’s Love Does. That’s the whole book: Love does. Love doesn’t say it’ll do something with no follow-through. Love doesn’t only think about helping or doing. Love doesn’t mock or tease. Love does. That’s A. I’m gonna level with you, I assumed Goff was 1 in a 100 million and this wasn’t ordinary practice, yet here I am a living, breathing recipient of it.

I know I can annoy and maybe even tire A out, yet she still picks up the phone. She still tries to understand me. She still tries to connect with me. She keeps caring, and that’s a radical type of caring that makes me wanna do what she’s doing.

I’ve written all of this about seven different ways just to say that people who choose to love no matter how annoyed or uncertain they are, might be the best kind of people. Because, after everything, they still decided on love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love in a way that puts all other loves to shame. Maybe that’s what I was trying to say.

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A Friend Loves at All Times

My friend, A, who is very near and dear to my heart, recently unveiled some things about me that I hadn’t realized I did. What I thought was me simply arranging words out of my mouth was actually victimization or putting myself below other people. Now, as much as I adore A’s straightforwardness, it stung. It stings a bit every single time she points something out. When she gently says something, I react with a defensive response. Being on the defense is what I know, so I fall back on it often.

Yesterday I met with her, and she said, “I’m gonna stop telling you things cause I don’t think you can handle it.”

And in an instant I said, “I’m doing my best!”

“There you go being on the defense again.”

By that time, I was a little less than irked. I went home, took a nap, and when I woke up I was screaming about war veterans.

“It’s like when someone has been in a war and they get home and realize that some of the things they’re doing aren’t normal, but it takes some time to adjust. I’ve been fighting a battle for 20 years! I need some time to adjust!” I felt justified, yet I was still wrong.

It finally clicked after I spent 90 minutes tutoring a 3rd grader who refused to speak to me because I told him he needed to focus more and study or we’d have to discuss if I would return. He listened to what I said. He silenced all his hyperactivity to reach the expectation I had of him. He thought about every problem we went over, and he responded exceptionally well for someone who was not speaking. That’s when I got it. A just wants me to do better, to be better, to grow up.

I’d been walking through this life for a long time believing that my trauma was on my face, but my trauma does not determine how someone responds to me. My trauma does not justify impartiality, victimization, or defensiveness. It explains it, sure, but it is not a resting point for projecting my life off of.

My 3 year old nephew’s Bible memorization phrase a couple of weeks ago was Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” A Friend sure does, but sometimes, that love comes in the form of a gentle rebuke that begins with, “I love you, but you’re incorrect.”

Keep Your Head on Straight

This evening, I found myself being stood up yet again by a man who says he wants to marry me, but he doesn’t know the first thing about commitment. I decided to blow off my anger on the way to the gas station. While driving, my bitterness began to creep out in the form of Meghan Trainor’s “No Good for You.” After the third time of it playing and my jaded feelings in the front seat, I turned it down. 

“Papa, I just don’t understand. Was he out to prove a point? I just…” Before I could continue, I saw my house completed and being used for a bigger purpose. I saw myself teaching. I saw myself with my goofy friends. I saw myself doing amazing things with what I’ve been blessed with, and I started to giggle. God continues to bless me with infinite opportunities and honors. The greatest honor of them all is being called His child. 

The thing is, I am His daughter. I dwell in His Presence, and I keep leaving the safety of Him and getting angry when people don’t treat me like the royalty I know I am. There’s a couple of things at work here. 

The first one connects directly to 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” ‭‭There is no need for me to keep going back into the dark, willingly exiting from God’s Presence just because I know I can come back. Why not be apart of this amazing priesthood, and wear it as the honor and privilege that it is? The thing about being in the dark is, it doesn’t offer anything new or beneficial. Why not stick with the light?

The second one is, how people treat me should never determine my attitude. People will do or say mean things. They will do things I believe are unfair or disrespectful. Now, I can choose to react to every last one (which is very exhausting), or I can let it roll off my back and continue being the person He designed me to be. The latter is the most difficult one but the most rewarding.  

I’m not sure what I expected on the drive to QT. Pity, maybe. I was throwing a pity party for one, but my God and my Spirit decided they weren’t having any of that. I’m grateful. Those parties can spin out of control very quickly. 

On the drive home, I listened to Israel Houghton’s “Friend of God.” With every repeat of the verse, my smile and my praise got wider and bigger.  

“Who am I that You are mindful of me?

That You hear me when I call.

Is it true that You are thinking of me?

How You love me it’s amazing”

I am a friend of God. As His friend, He reminds me to keep my head on straight when I forget that I’m already standing in the light. His light doesn’t come with any gimmicks but strength and wisdom. Most times, it comes with courage to move past how I feel and step into what I know: I am His special possession. 

Good. And you?

I’m sitting on my front porch listening to Beauty and the Beast (the Celine and Peabo version) while reading Love Does by Bob Goff when my neighbor Nancy walks up. I won’t put an age on Nancy, but she has a nice crown of grey and white hair. She wears a gold chain, and when she’s working in her yard, she always has on a grey or white t-shirt with her work pants and tool belt. She always says hello, and she always asks me how I’m doing. Today was no different. 

Today is the first time I’ve talked to Nancy in about two months. Some time ago, she had a heart attack, which took her out of her house for a bit because of obvious circumstances. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and admittedly, I missed her. I had small talk with Jules, the other woman who lives there, but I felt a special bond with Nancy. She was the first one to come over and introduce herself when I moved into my new neighborhood. She was kind through and through with no motive except to get to know who she was living next to. I not only appreciated that gesture but also respected it. 

I look up from my book and see Nancy with her hands on her hips. We exchange hellos. 

“Well, how ya doing?” She looks up to the sky then at me. One thing I notice is she gives me time to think about how I am before I respond. She has never given me the “Good n you?” Response most people give in passing. She listens. 

While she stood there, I thought about my day and decided on it would be accurate to say I was good. “Good. I’m doing good. How are you?” 

Nancy turns away from me, looking at the direction of my back yard and says, “By the grace of God…” We both let her words coat the atmosphere. “By the grace of God. I don’t feel so bad for someone who just had a heart attack!” 

We laugh. “I noticed you were gone for a while, but when I saw you, you were right back in your yard.” 

“I love my yard.” She spoke like a true sculptor of the earth. 

We finished our heart attack chit chat and discussed our now shared backyard due to Hurricane Irma. She elaborated on how she was going to cut a tree out from my back yard, but truly all I could focus on was when she said “chainsaw.” 

“Ohhhh, okay.” She made the whole process sound easy. Woman who just had a heart attack with a chainsaw? Sounds about right. I didn’t question it. I told her to be careful in the back yard and with her chainsaw. 

She left me with a warm smile and a “take care.” I was alone again with Mr. Goff and my music. 

A lot of the time I think we ask people how they are out of habit. We don’t really want the answer, or if we do, we want to hear that they’re okay and that’s it. One of my co-workers told me, “Don’t ever ask how someone is if you don’t really want the answer. I asked a lady once and she broke down on the spot—crying uncontrollably. If you’re not prepared for that type of answer then don’t ask because there’s good and bad responses.” 

When I asked Nancy how she was, I had no idea what she was going to say. Am I glad it wasn’t a break down? Sure, but that would’ve been okay too. My how are you today wasn’t just a how are you. It was a “I’m glad you’re still here. I hope you’re feeling better. Your absence made an impact.” What I got in return was the honor of getting a bit of who Nancy is, and I think that’s pretty cool. 

We’re called to love everyone as Jesus loves us. That requires being genuine all the time, not only when it’s convenient. 

““The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:29-31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You can’t really love your neighbor as yourself if you aren’t loving God with all your heart. Could you really love God and hate your neighbor who is also His creation?