I grew up hearing the phrase “hurt people hurt people” summing up the cause and effect of pain from others. It challenged me as it just felt like an endless roundabout with no hope, no change and no chance of exiting.
After years of it not sitting right with me, and getting tired of hearing the phrase as if there’s nothing that can be done about it, I’m thinking it’s time to change the story - if that was the case with hurt, then surely the same can be said about love.
I don’t say this with airyfairy thoughts, nor butterflies and glitter in my head (though that’s cool too and I do love glitter) I say this with feet planted in the ground, and a deep conviction that our mandate is two-fold: to love others, and to tell of the greatest love story ever told.
I believe that our world is hungry and thirsty for something to almost hit it right in the face and slap it to consciousness. To see and hold on to hope even when you don’t yet feel it; to know that you don’t walk the road alone; and for a love that permeates every area: in beauty and desolation, in comfort and difficulty, in abundant open-ness and vulnerabilities behind tall walls and locked doors.
And when it starts with us, it will be as and even more contagious than that which we’ve ever seen. This is our mandate.
So, practically what can this look like? Let's not complicate it. I'm not saying to become a hippie, and just start putting flowers in people's hairs and hugging them even when they fight you off. Defintely not that. What I am saying, is to be mindful that our actions have impact, and where possible, to be intentional with the way we interact with others so we are doing what we can do to LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR.
Personally, here are three things that I've challenged myself with in ways I can be more loving to those around me. I know these may sound super simple, but TBH, it hasn't always been simple for me to do these... But you know what, great trees come from small seeds, so I also don't underestimate what can look like small beginnings. And what I've found is that small tweaks make big difference. And as I've applied these in my life, it's formed not only good habits, but helped shape my character that bit more which is a cool plus, if you ask me.
- Listen better. Really listen. Don't just think hastily of what you can say that will sound smarter/better/shut the other person down, but take the time to listen to them. Listen not only to their words, but their body language; listen to the unspoken hints that they're dropping, and try to see where they're coming from... what makes them say what they're saying (no matter how dumb it sounds, or how angry it makes you. A split second of consideration can go a long way) TBH: I've slowly found this to be a gamechanger for me. I (unfortunately, but I guess it's led to a good outcome) realised that there were a lot of times when I've been so fixed on reacting and responding or proving my point, or proving them wrong (cause they totes deserve it *sarcasm*) that I actually didn't really listen to the other person, and (unfortunately) have added fuel to fires which could have easily been put out, had I listened better. (REAAAAAAL TALK, welcome to my life) Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying to be silenced into submission and be passive; definitely speak where needed... what I am saying is that there's times when there's valuable lessons to be learned when we listen first.
Say more, with less. Related to the previous point... Be considerate with the words you say. Ok, a bit of an extreme scenario, but stick with me here...If the words you say throughout your life are recorded, and will be read out by your mum at your funeral, is it words you're happy for her to read and say aloud in front of the people who matter to you? Would it be words you're proud of? (TBH, right now, my answer is probably a No in this department too...defs room for improvement) There's a translation of Prov 18.21 in the Bible that pretty much sums it up: Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. I'd rather not be a poison to the people around me... cause the thing about poison is, it's dangerous not only for the intended use, but also for the accidental damage it can cause. For example, in a recent attempt to clean the bathroom, I accidentally spilled some bleach on our bath mat which now looks like a poor and failed attempt at tie-dye. I can't reverse it - the damage is done, I just wished I was more careful. On the opposite extreme, words repeated without intent and purpose are useless. I just think of how I've gotten so used to saying the word "awesome" that I don't even know when the last time was that I actually meant it when I said it. Better to have said it less and with intention, than overdo it and it just carries no meaning anymore.
- Be a person of your word. Listen, this is definitely still a work in progress for me. (LOL) Ask my sister to compare the stats of how many promised movie nights I have with her vs, how many times I've fallen asleep before previews have even finished... (Sorry, Katrina.) And on a tangent note, if you're someone who is stuck with all the big promises you've made unsure of how to fulfill them... maybe be more mindful of the promises you're making and not make them just willy nilly, perhaps you need to rein it in a bit (or a lot). Whatever it may be, let's be people who do what we say we will do, no matter how small or big it seems. Let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Know when to say 'no' where needed, as it gives room for our 'yes' to be more dependable. This builds consistency, credibility and trust - words and traits that is super under-rated I reckon. I know that when people come through with what they say, it actually places value on my relationship with them and lets me know that they think I am worth the trust that they show. :)
So those are just three simple tweaks which I've found has helped me place value on others. What about you? Maybe you can try some of these out - or maybe you can do your own list up. Maybe your list has even more simpler goals in it - that's SO fine! How cool that you even want to do this. Maybe your list has goals that seem larger and grander...good for you too! Whatever it is, we are cheering the hell out of you. Imagine if more people expended their energy in getting creative in the ways we can let people know they are loved, valued and worth the effort. Imagine the knock-on effect that could have on them and the people around them. And all because we decided to make a small tweak!
We'd love to hear from you -- what are some ways you can make this practical in your world? Let us know in the comments, or on insta @thedarlinghearts.