Confession time. I am not good at loving people. I really struggle with it.
Sure, I love my family and friends. I would do anything for them.
But people outside my intimate zone? Strangers? Difficult people? Not so much.
Right after I dedicated my life to Christ, I found myself in an extremely difficult position. I had a neighbor who had been a friend, but soon became someone I found it hard to be near. We both changed, and I soon found myself doing anything I could to avoid her. I do not like conflict. It makes me extremely uncomfortable, and so I just simply avoided her. I became very judgmental toward her and often thought mean things. I would share my observations with my friends, sometimes in a concerned manner but mostly in a gossipy way. I didn’t agree with some of her parenting decisions, and let that dictate my feelings toward her.
Whenever I think about her, I am ashamed. I had no right to judge her. I should have done a hundred things differently. I sat, all high and mighty, on my Christianity and trying to live my life the “right” way, but in the end completely failed.
I failed because I completely missed the target on one of the biggest commands of Christianity. Jesus introduced the new commandment: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).
Think about it, though. How often do we see other people show off their Christianity, only to then witness them completely ignore this commandment? Have you also done this?
Human nature. It’s a convenient excuse, and I don’t mean it to be any kind of excuse for my behavior. Our human nature is not kind. When Eve ate the apple and sin entered the world, it brought along evilness, death, disease, pain, suffering, and a plethora of other bad qualities. We live in a fallen, broken world.
When we surrender our lives to Christ, though, we take on the responsibility of trying our best to shine His light every day to everyone. It is not easy. It’s hard! It’s a daily struggle, a bigger one for some of us than others.
A few days before Lorrie passed, I had been journaling about this commandment and my struggles with it. And then, at Mass during her funeral, the priest spoke of this. He did so because when he asked us to describe Lorrie, loving is the word used the most. Loving others doesn’t have to be difficult, and Lorrie exemplified this. A kind word. A smile. A hello to a stranger. Taking the time to make someone else know they are important. A couple of my close friends shared with me how Lorrie always remembered them, and their children, and made a point to ask about them when she saw them. I learned that she used to mail out cards to parishioners who were sick. One of her close friends shared some pictures with me, along with a note Lorrie wrote her before they moved. My husband shared how she always wrote notes on the Christmas cards she mailed – personal notes to the families. She took the time to let people know she cared, and that is what people remember the most about her.
I’m trying to be better. It’s still a struggle, and my grief compounds it because I really do not want to interact with people right now. What a great legacy to leave behind, though, for people to remember you for your kindness.
Be kind. Just love.