Today, I was reminded of the infinite worth of human beings, the value of a single life, and how one life produces several stories.
Multiple stories shape a person. Different stories shape different aspects of physical, emotional, and spiritual beliefs for a single life. There isn't just “a story” or “their story” per individual, but rather many stories that attribute to the unique heart of just one human being.
I believe we, as image-bearers of God, have an opportunity to share those stories with one another and spur one another on in love.
'And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more …'
God has been so sweetly pressing on my heart this past week. He has instilled a boldness that is causing me to use my voice and revealed that I must be brave enough to listen to my heart. I find there are often many times I have been fearful of reaching out to others and speaking to others. It has been difficult to stamp out my fear of man over the past year and bare my heart for all to see. It truly has not been easy exposing my heart and being honest about my past – but, it has been soooo WORTH it. God has shown me and taught me more over the last year than ever before. I'm grateful for the bold fervor He has planted in the depth of my soul and for the passion He has ignited, especially in regards to serving others.
My thoughts lately have consisted of how all of us should strengthen one another in Love.
LOVE [luhv] = a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
How we should desire to encourage and help others with open hands without expectation or return. How difficulties or circumstance should never be an excuse, but that we should make an even greater effort to then reach out to others. We are not meant to do things on our own, but to do them together. To enter willingly into the highs and lows. That loving others is messy, hard, difficult, and deep. That it requires us to get our hands dirty, sit in a position to learn from others, and to give up selfishness.
So how do we love?
We do it by stretching ourselves, listening, learning, and putting forth effort. We do it by engaging those around us no matter where we are or what circumstance we find ourselves in.
So, here is one of many stories:
This morning I had to take my car to Brakes Plus because my steering wheel was wobbling and the back tire was making noise (yay me). Luckily, the manger there, Jason Jones, is by far one of the nicest auto mechanics I have met. He has helped me out by fixing my car on numerous occasions and has always been willing to take care of any issues that my car spits out – I couldn't appreciate it more. While I sat in the waiting area, a man entered and had a seat. He said “Hello, how are you this morning?” in a strong Nigerian accent and automatically my heart burst with excitement. His name was Koyum and he moved to America to work while the rest of his family members are still in Africa.
Koyum inspired me and encouraged me with his willingness to bare his heart. We had an intellectual and spiritual driven conversation about his culture and loving others of a different culture. What that looks like and how the 'other' can shape views and/or stereotypes with a single story. We talked about how there is a danger in a single story and how only hearing one story instead of multiple can produce false realities. Much like what we see in the media, or that one story we heard about 'those people' overseas. A single story of another culture or place can warp perspectives. Just hearing one isn't enough. There are several stories that shape lives, a people group, and a country.
I was moved by Koyum's stories of his family back home, his 11 year old son, and his journey here to work and live in a culture that was once unknown to him. I made a new friend today, and it was so incredibly cool.
To top it off, the next person who entered the waiting room was a former missionary and pastor of 7 years. Then there was the faithful passerby who heard me say farewell to my new-found friends and she asked my name because she so desired to pray for my upcoming journey as a missionary on the world race.
I was blown away at the love that was uncovered by multiple stories in just one little place. At a Brakes Plus, on a Friday morning. It didn't even cost a dime to fix my car, isn't that a hoot? I saw God's love move in the waiting room of an auto shop today, and it confirmed all the more that going to love others of another culture is what God designed me for.
As I conclude this blog, I hope that you feel inspired to give and receive love. That you know you have worth. That your stories are valuable. And most importantly, that YOU are LOVED by God.
How we view the World's needs will shape our response. I challenge you to think outside the box.
Consider becoming a part of a movement to become actively involved in serving others no matter where you find yourself.
Much love yahll. <3