I preach caring as the underlying, fundamental reason for why I teach. It is what drew me into teaching. It is why I stay.
It’s always interesting to know why a person feels strongly for or against something they believe. And the reason I am FOR caring- FOR seeing people as potential, FOR believing that people are possibility, FOR seeing the best in people is, in a large part, because I have known over my lifetime what it feels like to both receive that wonderful caring. And to not.
Every one of us could identify with this I am sure. You are living your life, doing whatever it is you do. And along comes a person- a family member, a friend, a colleague, a community member- or whoever: who sees what it is you are doing at that particular moment- and they make a judgment call about it. Sometimes those judgment calls are positive and affirming, helping us to carry on with our goal of living our lives to the best of our abilities. But at times, those judgement calls are blows to our self-esteem. Chipping away at whatever good we might feel about ourselves as unique, extraordinary human beings. Somehow, it is quite often those one or two judgement calls that we focus on the most. I know I do. Things could be going along tickedy-boo- and I might be starting to embrace myself as a unique child of God- which I am. When along comes a person who sees in me the worst parts of who I am, causing me to fall flat on my face. Barely able to stand.
Those blows are hard to sustain when they come. It takes time to get back up again.
Something we need to recognize about people- all people is this: we don’t truly know everything that there is to know about that person’s heart, feelings and soul. We can look on superficially and even at times, we can gaze deeper- but we are not God. We don’t know the hearts of people. We don’t know who is struggling with self-esteem issues, we don’t know who is hurting inside. We don’t know what has happened in their mind a moment ago- let alone what might happen next. We are not privy to all their thoughts and intentions. We don’t know all there is to know about a person’s heart.
Sometimes, that same phrase- We Don’t Know The Hearts Of People- has been used in certain contexts to diminish or put down people, assuming that there is so much bad within a person that we could never expect a whole lot from them. In church contexts, that phrase has been used to downplay a person’s spiritual interest, although at times it has been used to see the best in a person spiritually speaking.
We often assume the worst when speaking of hearts- as if to say that the heart of a person is where their darkest secrets are kept- and those secrets must be bad. Because how could they be good?
What if those secrets are ones based on pain? On difficulty? On hurt and betrayal? What if the secrets we keep are what keep us from seeing the best in ourselves? What if we don’t show the best of ourselves to other people because we truly don’t believe the best about ourselves internally? What if others believed the best in us- could we then see the best in ourselves too?
We often recognize that a person is more than meets the eye- but how often do we recognize that there is more good, more positive, more beautiful to people than meets the eye? How often do we say ‘we don’t know the heart’ and really mean- “that person’s heart has so much good within it- I must know more!” In fact, I think the opposite sometimes happens, because more often than not, we think to ourselves, “that person is_______ (fill in the blank with a negative attribute)” leading us away from thinking the best about them. And rather leaving us to feel the worst.
All this is based on feelings we have- ideas and thoughts. Beliefs we form about people without knowing the whole story. But have we ever stopped to know truth about a person? Have we ever taken the time to see their best? Do we believe that each one of us is capable of being the best? That we are potential and possibility at the heart of our unique person?
Truly? Do we see people truly the way God sees us? As His friends? As His children: His sons and daughters? As His beloved? As the object of His love? As forgiven? As cherished? As the ones He gave His life for? No greater love is there in heaven or on earth than this: that One would lay down His life for His friends.
If we are friends of God, than that should be stamp of approval enough for any man or woman here on earth.
Friends, we need to care for one another. We need to love like God loves us. We need to see the best in one another. We need to build one another up. We need to pray unfailingly for one another. Pretty hard to pray continuously for someone we can’t see the best in. We need to care enough about each other to resist the urge to tear one another apart with gossip. We need to help each other. We need to see each other as God does- as reflections of His one and only Son. Just think of the love God has for His own Child. We too are His precious earthly children also. We need to love each other as such.
I want this caring to be part of my teaching- this ability to see the best in people. But more than that- I want it to be a part of my life. This life I am living in the here and now. I don’t want to write something and not live it: I want the very words that I put to paper to become the life that I live. If I say I want to see the best in people, then that is what I want to live.
And it would be just amazing if that possibility was reciprocated the world over. From person to person. That we would see the best in each other. Just as God sees within all of us our possibility. Our potential.
That we would see this in each other: a reflection of His love. A relfection of how truly great His care extends.
If God is FOR us, who can be against?