It seems to me that a lot of people are afraid of baggage.
They're afraid of brokenness. Of someone needing them too much. Of things getting hard, or messy, or cloudy. Because it's time-consuming and it's complicated and it requires investment that we as humans aren't always up for putting in.
So they run. They take already scarred and cracked hearts and shatter them all over again in order to take what is safer and easier for themselves.
But what they miss, what they just don't understand, is that if they just stick around, their time, their love, their patience, can be like aloe on a fresh sunburn. It can soothe aches that felt like they would never go away. They can break down walls that were once thicker than Jericho. They can be witness to the miracle that is light coming back into someone's eyes.
Why are we so afraid of loving people too much? We'd rather sit at our computers or look at our phones and waste our hours scrolling through comments and pictures and hitting a "like" button over and over again than know what it feels like to put yourself all in on a relationship. We'd rather send text messages that get lost in translation than actually talk to people. We'd rather give small talk repeatedly and say "How are you?" and expect back "Good, you?" than actually know what is on someone's mind and in their heart. The truth will set you free is more than just a saying, you know.
Shouldn't we as decent human beings, let alone as Christians for those of us who are, love the people in our lives enough to care about how they are actually doing instead of just how they say they're doing? Because I know what it's like to feel like your whole life is falling to pieces and be screaming internally that you are absolutely not okay but believe that if you said it out loud, nobody would even stop long enough to care. When did we get so wrapped up in our own lives that we lost sight of the heartbreak right around us, even in the people we proclaim to love so dearly?
We need to pay better attention. We need to look past the highlight reels and get to the nitty gritty behind-the-scenes real lives of others that we'd probably feel just as embarrassed and ashamed to share if theirs were ours. Because whether we like it or not or admit it or not, we all have nitty gritty behind-the-scenes reels that aren't pretty to look at. We need to give each other the same grace we'd like for ourselves. Seriously, when did the "Golden Rule" get so complicated? Don't kids learn that in preschool?
Love really can change things, y'all. I haven't just seen it in my life, either. I've seen it in people in my world. And it is so beautiful to get to watch people find joy again. It's more beautiful than the Sistine Chapel or Kate Middleton (sorry Kate) or any creature you could find. Love brings hope and hope brings a life raft to get through the rapids. Trust me, when the rapids come (and they will), we will look for life rafts, and I know my life rafts have time and again come in the shape of the people who pull me out of the deep end and refuse to let me go back to the darkness. You can actually save someone's life by the way you love them, and believe me, I don't say that lightly.
But let me be perfectly clear: this will not be easy. Pouring love and light and friendship into another person, giving of yourself to give some help to someone else, is not easy. I'm not here to try and paint some rosy picture. Sometimes it's downright exhausting, and it can feel so very draining on your emotions and heart when you're deeply invested in someone else's life. I've been there. Ask any one of my closest friends and they can tell you that I've sighed and said "Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much," to them at least a handful of times. But it's so worth it. It's so worth it to walk with someone and see them come out of a storm stronger. It's worth it to watch healing happen right before your eyes. It's worth it to create bonds with people, real bonds, the kind where you know you can say anything and nothing will change.
Yes, the kind of love I'm talking about makes you quite susceptible to being hurt. I don't deny that. But what kind of life would we have if we shut out anyone we thought might hurt us? It's not a life I want, I know that much. We need people. We need community. We need to be known.
So here's a challenge for you, and for me, too: Love hard. Love like you've got nothing to lose. Love as if you're running out of time, because really, we all are. Love like your past doesn't matter and neither does theirs. Because awesome things can happen. Crazy beautiful, life-changing awesome things.
Don't believe me? Just try it and watch.