It was that feeling. You know it, that feeling where you are doing everything and no one is giving you anything in return. The feeling where nowhere in the world gives a damn about you or is helping you out while you sacrifice. The feeling that, as parents, we butt our heads against every day. We love to give; we want to feel loved in return.
That feeling has been haunting me, perhaps ruling me, for awhile. Every day is the same: get up, take care of the little people and the big man in my life, run ragged, fall into bed, repeat. Sure, I should be making time for myself. But who, I wondered, was making time for me? If I didn’t make time for myself then no one made time for me? Great.
Then, I lost the charm on my bracelet.
My husband gave me a bangle bracelet for Christmas two years ago and dangling on it is a charm that holds sand from our beloved local beach, crafted by a local artist. I wear it on my left wrist and I love this bracelet. It isn’t perfect. The design is violently flawed as the edges are always catching on things. But I love it even more for its imperfections.
But then yesterday those edges caught and POP – the clasp flew open and the charm of beloved sand, my only connection to the beach in the middle of this dreary winter, flew in the air. To somewhere. Lost.
I scoured the carpet as long as I could…until I had to get in the car to get a little someone. My left wrist was naked.
Later that afternoon, after both kids were home from school, my husband was in the kitchen sniffing out a beer and some dinner, I told everyone how I had lost my charm. I explained where it popped off my hand into the ether.
Immediately, all three took off upstairs where I found them seconds later, searching the entire upstairs for my charm. They weren’t asked, I didn’t beg. They did it because they love me.
This was love.
As I watched them, on all fours, crawling around, my eyes got teary. I had been looking for love in all the wrong places.
Which I had to ask myself, where else do I miss the signs of love?
In the raging, terrible, mean and vicious political tumult America has thrust itself into lately, it is hard to feel the love. We talk about hate, borders, terrorists…people who don’t believe and who didn’t vote…petitions that need to be signed and politicians that need to hear us. I am not saying we don’t need it. No more broken windows and Facebook arguments that go nowhere.
But in the middle of all this, we need to stop and feel the love. We need to show love.
We have to be the change.
We can, and should, offer small signs of love to any human being, regardless of their beliefs.
We can drive better. By letting people in, smiling, understanding how to use a zipper merge, and being polite, we can allow our actions to speak to respect. As we plaster our bumpers with stickers of the politicians we believe in (or, more tragically, of the ones we hate), let’s remember to show the person in the car behind us how we drive with love.
We can read more. By reading, we understand the human condition. It is easy to take pictures and news clips and dehumanize the faces. And no, this isn’t about political articles or fake news or the Facebook posts of people who believe like we do. Novels. Books. Think we need to keep immigrants out to protect ourselves? I beg you, read books that tell tales of true human refugees and the suffering they incur. Only by reading and seeing life through someone else’s experience can we truly begin to feel empathy. Reading opens worlds, and we need the world opened right now.
We can pick up the trash. We are affected by the rise in talk about the hoax of climate change (as it may result in the loss of my husband’s job). But even though I don’t have the microphone to ask America to reconsider this, I can help my Earth. I want the Earth to have places for my kids to retreat to, trees for them to sit under, and oceans they can swim in. Watching the plastic shopping bags blowing in the wind on the side of a marsh, beside a seagull, all because one person was too lazy to take care of their trash or thought their one moment of neglect didn’t matter, pains me. My family and I always pick that plastic bag up.
We can volunteer. So much of the hatred I have witnessed is frequently boiled down to a lack of experience, blinders we are either given when we are children or ones we put on to protect ourselves.
When we volunteer we can talk to the woman who was abused by her husband for years, who ended up pregnant by his physical force seven times, who had to run at night, dragging her children with her, and we can begin to understand that healthcare and social support matters. When we go out into the world and do good deeds, we can hold the hand of a child who does not get three meals a day and wonder what that child will be to our society when he grows up to be an angry, powerless, and hungry man.
We isolate ourselves and we are trying to isolate ourselves more and, at the end of the day, that never makes us better people. Jesus didn’t come to build a nation to hide his righteous people behind a wall. He came to empower his nation to go out and help the poor, sick and weak.
Humans will always have different opinions, and they should. We should challenge each other to be better and learn more. But we should never hate.
There is love, so much love in the world. There are also so many opportunities to be the steward of love. These don’t have to be large acts, they don’t have to be statements. They can start in the small places.
Love can be as simple as getting down on the floor and looking for some sand behind glass.