This past Valentine’s day, my seven-year-old was adamant about creating her own gifts for her classmates. She started two weeks in advance hand-crafting each small gift. Night after night, I watched her work with such intentionality and joy on her face. On each package was a drawing that depicted her classmate’s likes, hobbies, and/or favorite candy. I was astonished. At the end of her 2 week crafting session, she had 18 little thoughtful gifts—a box full of love.
As I looked at each gift, my heart was pricked. This was a lesson in the importance of making others feel seen and known. She had taken the time to really get to know her classmates. I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes. Had I allowed the busyness of life to cause me to forget how to love well? Had I gotten caught up in checking boxes and had forgotten God’s heart?
This was a heart check moment. Somewhere I had gotten off track. I had gotten consumed by all of the doing–all the good works. I was then reminded of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 (NIV)–
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
The prayer I prayed in my heart right then was, “Lord, give me a heart of compassion. Show me if there is anything within me that is keeping me from loving others well. Show me when my motives are off. I want love to be the center of all that I do.”
After that moment of reflection, I felt God’s spirit prompt me to start with those right in front of me—start with loving “one” well. It does not have to be complicated.
Following the example of my 7-year-old, I decided to zoom in my focus and start simple and small. If you’re wondering how that may look. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
-Setting a reminder in your phone to message or call your friends or family members
-Making an extra portion of dinner so you can give leftovers to a neighbor who is busy or ill
-Opting for handwritten thank you notes
-Offering to give a single mom/dad a break by taking their kids to the park on a playdate
-Offering your undivided attention to a friend who needs a listening ear
-Giving the benefit of the doubt–we are all going through a hard no one else knows about
-Intentionally celebrating the success of others
Again, loving others does not have to be complicated. However, it does require some intentionality. Can you imagine how this world would be if we each took small simple steps to show love and kindness? What would you add to this list? Will you join me in starting with loving others around you really well?
About the Author:
Latasha is a speaker, writer, podcaster, and coach. She is passionate about empowering others to do the heart work so they can live and lead from the inside out. She is a passionate educator who has spent the past 18 years serving in the roles of teacher, assistant principal, principal, and now director of instruction. She has also served as an associate pastor for almost a decade. Wife to her best friend and mom to four beautiful girls. Latasha loves to run, read, spend time at the beach, and travel in search of great food that hugs her belly.
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