Dear Sweet E, so many of my words to you deal with the hard edges of life: overcoming rejection, accepting that we are all needy and broken, understanding that you are not your failures, losses or tragedies. These words will be no different.
It’s not that I want us to sit with what makes us uncomfortable. Not even close. Our nature is to revel in the easy, the fun, the lighthearted. Yet, to embrace the light of this life fully, one needs to know, intimately, what lurks in the shadows. When we can see the yin yang of this world, when we know there is much that can and will cut us to the bone, yet keep the hope and faith of goodness within, we have the power to overcome.
There’s going to come a time in your life when you will have the opportunity to step up when someone falls, even if they don’t, or won’t, do the same for you.
Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it.
Why would you bother to step up and help someone who wouldn’t do the same for you?
I’ll tell you the reason I’ve done it and would do it again: my faith calls me to love to the point of pain, meaning to love even my enemies. To pray for them. To hold them up to God for blessings and care and His deep compassion and love:
Mathew 5: 43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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It’s a tough request, one I have struggled with my entire life. Choochie’s go-to is being a fighty West Texas gal. Forgive my enemies? LOVE my enemies?
For one who thinks a hearty throat punch (figurative or literal) can rehabilitate many an ill-behaved enemy, I struggle with the command to LOVE my enemy. (Not that I have that many enemies, or any, really, but I relate it to anyone who is outside the realm of those I would never ever throat punch.)
This explains why I step up, but what if one doesn’t have a faith that calls them to this extreme measure of help to one who may not care? Why bother?
I ask myself that all the time, even as a person of faith. Why the hell bother?
We are bound to one another in this life, like it or not. Community is important. Helping one in need, stepping up for one in need, especially when you think they don’t deserve it, or when you know they won’t do the same for you, is what is right and good about us. It’s when we see need and respond, especially when we don’t want to, that offers love to someone who needs it the most.
As G-Daddy likes to say (and most Aggies like to remember): Do good and suffer the consequences.
Step up when someone falls, even if they don’t or won’t. Don’t let your goodness be dependent on the actions of others.
In the heat of the moment, you may not like it, the voice in your head may balk and offer 100 ways to get out of stepping up, but if you can, work your way out of that dark place and get to the door, open it, walk through to the light and offer your help anyway.
You’ll sleep better at night knowing you did what you could for someone in need, regardless of their response.
We fall. We get up. Sometimes we fall and struggle to get up. Getting a helping hand from one you love is expected. Getting a hand up from one whom you may not like, one who considers you an enemy, one you consider an enemy, or at the very least annoys the hell out of you, is extraordinary.
Step up when someone falls, even if they don’t or won’t.
Be extraordinary, baby.