i’m searching for words that will make you believe me

a few years ago i had a little thing that i did on here called “why not? wednesday.” i would write about things that might be a little embarrassing or personal but that i figured, “why not share them?” they were always things that i figured other people had thought at one point or another and, since no one else was talking about them, i figured i would.

why not?

today is one of those posts. what i’m going to say may make you think i’m a terrible person. it often times makes me think i’m a terrible person. i completely understand if your opinion of me changes after reading this post, but i figured it was worth sharing.

i love god.

i don’t love others well.

this is something i figured out a couple of years ago. my first two years out of seminary were spent working as an intern with our high school ministry. when i got to our church, the high school ministry was averaging about 125 students. my first couple of months were great. i got to know a lot of kids. i really loved them and loved our leaders. i was loving the whole ministry thing and realized it’s what god made me to do.

there were 135 students at our first gathering of the school year. i was pumped. the place was filled with energy. i knew mostly everyone and was able to talk to a ton of kids, listen to their stories, know what was going on in their life, etc.

four weeks later we had 175 students.

by february we cracked 200.

the next fall we were pushing 230 students.

i was overwhelmed. there were so many kids that i didn’t know. there were so many kids trying to tell me stories and keep me updated on what was going on in their lives. there were so many kids essentially saying, “hey. i need you to pay attention to me. i need you to love me.” it was in those months that i realized that i love jesus but i’m terrible at loving others.

don’t get me wrong, i have my group. i have my friends. i have the guys in my small group. i have my family. i have my volunteers. i do my best to absolutely love the crap out of them. i’d drop everything and do something for those groups if they needed me to.

it’s the other people that i have a hard time with.

it’s the people outside of those groups that i have a hard time loving.

it’s the random guy at taco bell that i have trouble caring about.

earlier this week, some friends of mine were throwing a birthday party for a guy that worked at taco bell. they didn’t even know his name. all they knew was that it was his birthday and they wanted to celebrate the guy and show him that he was loved. they asked me if i wanted to come along. as cool as i thought the idea was, i simply didn’t want to.

i didn’t want to love a random dude on his birthday to show him that jesus loves him.

that makes me sound like a horrible chrisitan.

it makes me feel like a terrible person.

i want to love people. i really do. i want to show people that jesus loves them. my entire job is based around the idea of creating environments for people to come and meet jesus. this blog is to show the true thoughts and true stories of a christian as he grows up. most of the things that i do are centered around church and telling people that jesus loves them.

your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – john 13:35

well crap.

we hear all of the time that we are to love god and love people. when i really think about it, i know that i love the people in those groups – my friends, my family, my small group, my volunteers. i just have a really hard time caring about the people outside of those groups.

i’m jealous of the people that it comes easy to. i have so many friends that can see a need and immediately begin to figure out how they can help. my natural reaction? try to figure out who i can find that can help.

my wife is the epitome of the type of person i’m jealous of. a few months ago her coworkers threw a baby shower for another coworker. nicole had the idea that it’d be easier for everyone to simply give money and let her do the shopping instead of everyone buying small presents. she knew that together they could get some of the bigger things for this coworker.

she collected the money.

she took hours out of her saturday to go buy the presents.

she spent time on her sunday wrapping the presents.

oh, and she gave some of her money to go above and beyond and get everything the coworker needed.

that’s the person i want to be. i want to be the guy that offers to take care of the coworker. i want to be the guy who gets excited about throwing a birthday party for a random stranger. i want to be known as the guy who would do anything to love others.

maybe you’re already that guy. if you are, thank you. thank you for taking care of people. thank you for loving them so well. thank you for making up for people like me.

if you’re like me, you’re not a terrible person. we throw around the idea of loving people like it’s something natural and easy. for some people, it is. loving others is just second nature for them. for those like us, it’s hard and awkward and unnatural. i think the key for us is to keep going. it’s to keep pursuing the idea of loving others. it’s to keep trying. it’s acting in those rare moments where we have an idea to love someone. it’s not quitting. it’s not settling and accepting that we’re just someone that doesn’t care about other people.

we may not be people who will throw a birthday party for a random stranger (yet), but we can start small. we can start off by encouraging someone. we can start by holding the door for a stranger. we can start by being overly nice to the cashier at the grocery store. we see friends who love people so well so easily and think that we have to immediately be that.

we don’t go from zero to ten without first getting to one.

we have to start somewhere.

we have to start small.

we have to start today.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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