If there is one thing that cancer changes about your life its that it forces you to look at everything in new ways. Not only does it force you to see things differently it also does the same to those closest to you. Shawn and I have always enjoyed staying up late and talking with each other. Sometimes its about the silliest most unimportant and odd things. Sometimes its about our plans for the next day or the rest of the week, sometimes its about our hopes and dreams and then sometimes its about so much more. Lately after we have chased the girls off to bed for the 15th time and they have finally given in and gone to sleep we have been talking about some of those ideas from my last blog. Most of my blogs come from our late night talks actually. Its that lesson of compassion and clothing ourselves in it that keeps coming up in our conversations. It nags at me daily about what it means to be compassionate and the more we talk about it the more I realize that we must do more than just talk about it. I probably learned the most throughout this cancer from our late night talks.
To show compassion is really to Love out loud. Now of course this applies to so many areas of our lives. The most obvious is those whom we are closest to. Do you give your spouse a kiss each morning as you go your separate ways? Do you give each other a hug every evening when you get home? When you kids get up for the 23rd time after they have been put to bed do you yell at them to get back in bed or do you give them a hug and explain to them that you love them but they need their rest so that we can have fun again tomorrow? Bed time is exhausting in my house these days. Not as bad as nap time but it is exhausting to say the least. They find every excuse to get up. First for a drink, then to potty, then another drink, then of course to potty again, finally when I’m starting to get tired of the game and they can hear it in my voice they say “mommy I just need one more hug and kiss” in the sweetest and most innocent voice and of course I melt and give them one. I usually tell them at some point that they have had enough to drink or that they need to cover themselves after I have done it a couple times but loving out loud means NEVER refusing them a hug and kiss no matter how tired and frustrated I am of chasing them back to bed. Besides who could say no to this face?
Do you love those close to your heart out loud by sending them cards and notes just because? When you see a friend that you haven’t seen in a while do you say “good to see you” and then carry on or do you love them out loud and show them its good to see them by giving them a hug. What about when they leave? Do you just let them go or do you give them a giant hug and refuse to let go? I apologize to my friends for this because I’m terrible at this! I hate that I’m terrible at this but I’m going to get better at it I promise. Next time your getting the biggest bestest hug!
The thing is you never know just how much time you have left or how much time your loved ones have. That is what makes loving out loud so important. In an instant they could be out of our lives and if that were to happen would they know just how much you loved them? Do me a favor tomorrow and kiss your spouse as you go your separate ways and leave for work, greet them upon return that evening and when your kids get up for the millionth time smile and give them a kiss and go tuck them in one more time.
Loving out loud also means taking compassion on anyone we greet. Again its something that as Christians we are called upon to show compassion just as Christ did. When you are asked for money by a stranger do you stop and question what they may use it for. Do you stand there and judge them for the possible bad choices that may have been the reason that they are living on the street begging or do you reach in your pocket and give them money no questions asked? If you give them some or all of the money in your pocket do you also stand there and preach to them and tell them how if they don’t change their ways they will go to hell? If you do I can tell you that the last thing they need is someone judging them and preaching at them. Do you hand it over and tell them that God loves you and he wants so much for them, that this money is gift not from you but from Him for them. That I believe is more likely what Christ would have done and it will make a much bigger impact on them. Tell them simply to go find a church, to find God if they haven’t already because he can make their life amazing.
One night when we were talking about what it means to love out loud as I call it Shawn pointed out just how often we fail at this. He asked why we don’t stop to help someone stranded alongside the road. Duh, because its not safe. They could rob you or hurt you or maybe even worse. Then he said “well if say we trust God and this is something that Jesus would have done then shouldn’t we also trust God that he will take care of us if we are doing his work and that even if something does happen that its part of His plan” we sat there in silence for a few minutes. I tried to think of every reason I could to say that he was wrong but I couldn’t do it. No matter how I look at it he is right. If we are going to profess that we are Christians and as Christians we are supposed to try and live our lives just as Christ did then our own fears should not stop us from doing the right thing. In the book of Matthew we are told “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the vary hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” Matthew 10:29-32. That scripture has always been one of my favorites and yet it has taken me most of my life to actually understand the depth of its meaning. No longer will I be afraid to love out loud because God WILL take care of me and my family if we are out there doing His will.
Loving out loud also means finding ways to love those that need it most even when we don’t have contact with them. It breaks my heart to think of all the children and families in the world who are going without food, water and basic needs. Those who are treated poorly by the world that surrounds them, those who each day fear for their lives. Its one thing to think about it and be sad for them and its another to actually do something about it. No I don’t suggest everyone go run and join the mission field. For some maybe that’s the best answer and the way they are meant to love out loud, for some it may mean sending money or other material goods and yet for others it could be something entirely different. I’m not even sure what it means right now for our own family but I know that its something we are praying about and trying to figure out. (For any family that reads this and freaks out no we will not be moving and joining the mission field. I had cancer and need only the best medical care so that I can continue to find ways to better his kingdom. This means staying right where we are. Also this does not mean we will be fostering or adopting children because again I had cancer. A rare and aggressive type that doesn't allow for such things so please do not call freaking out about such things).
Now I'll be honest. Shawn and I have always felt this way and we have had this exact conversation many times since we have been married. The difference is that an experience like this last year forces you to not just talk about things like loving out loud but to actually do it. I challenge you to join our family in our quest to find ways to love out loud in all aspects of life and to embrace what it really means to be a Christian and walk the road the Christ would have walked in our world today.