It just so happens I have the INCREDIBLE blessing of living right next door to one of my best friends.
We don't live beside each other because we are friends. We are friends because we are neighbors. We didn't even know each other prior to us moving in, and we weren't evenly instantly close friends. It was a friendship that grew and developed over a number of years and heartfelt conversations. We have cried a few tears together, laughed a whole lot of laughs together, loved on each other's kids and shared in each other's passions.
I convinced her to run my first marathon with me (she convinced me to run the second with her). She taught me where all the best boutiques in the city are and I taught her where to get the best running shoes. She is the one I have whispered all my hope-to-somedays to and she has done the same. She is the one who convinced me to go to Haiti 17 months ago. And in just a few days she will return to this land she taught me to love.
As she prepares to go love on some orphans I can't help but remember my own trip to Haiti.
Recognizing that the idea of loving on an orphan for a few days and than leaving might leave us feeling hopeless, like we made no difference, our motto for the time we were there was "Love the one in front of you". And we did! We loved on every orphan, momma (those in charge of the daily care of the orphans), support team member and Haitian we met. There was a little freedom in releasing it all to God. HE was in charge of who he put in our path, all we were to do was love them as Christ would. It was easier than you might think. Away from all the distractions of our daily life and the hustle and bustle of our culture. To just sit down with a perfect stranger and say "tell me about yourself"; to look a child in the eye and whisper in their ear "Jesus LOVES you! (and SO DO I)!!!"; to take a crying child from a tired momma and tell her to take a little break. It was surprisingly easy to just love the one in front of you.
The truth of the matter is, you don't have to go to Haiti to experience this. ALL any of us are called to do is LOVE the one in front of us. It's up to God to decide who that person is going to be we are just called to LOVE them! Love them like Christ would.
The man at the gas station who took your spot? Love him. Let him have the spot, even smile at him, give him a wave.
The over-tired and grumpy check out lady? Love her. Smile, tell her you appreciate what she is doing, recognize how tire she must be standing on her feet all day in one spot!!!
Your child who is screaming at you for _______, for the thousandth time? Love her. That doesn't mean you have to cave. Just love her. Smile at her (and make it reach your eyes), tell her you love her, give her your attention and love her.
The spouse who said the WRONG thing? Love him. Forgive him. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't mean to hurt you and even if he did, still forgive him. Love him.
The neighbor you adore? or the one don't? Love them.
Your child's overworked teacher who snapped at your kid? Love her.
The older gentlemen you got stuck behind at the grocery store when you were already running late? Love him. He probably isn't used to doing this himself and he may need some help. Carry his groceries for him. Love him.
It doesn't matter where you are, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, standing in your own gourmet kitchen, or somewhere in between. You are called to love the one in front of you?
Will you do it?