Here lately I’ve taken to walking my neighborhood with our Pittie after we put the kids to bed. I try to walk every other night, and Charlotte and I usually walk about 2.5 miles by the time we get home. Last night when we went out for our walk, I was trying to decide what to listen to. I accidentally opened the PodCast app, and the sermon from Sunday was there. I normally listen to music, but last night I felt like I needed to listen to the sermon because I had missed it Sunday.
God does things for a reason.
This teaching was emotional. It was touching on a subject not usually taught in church. As rough as it was to hear the raw emotion in the words that were spoken, it gripped me in a way that made me ask myself, “What can I do? Am I doing enough?” The story of the Good Samaritan was brought up. Someone said something about how we should be like the Samaritan who cared for the beaten man, despite the differences they had, and not pass by or turn the other way.
After we closed in prayer, Mike challenged us to talk to someone. So, as I was rounding the last curve home and the sermon was over, I prayed. “God, soften my heart. Help me to not just speak love but show it. Help me to remove the plank from my eye so I can be the neighbor you call me to be. Show me who you want me to talk to. Help me to be open, so I can learn.”
And He showed me.
Flashback to when I was growing up. I always wished for an older brother, and when I was in high school, there were a few guys that “adopted me” as their little sister. They were black. But I didn’t see them as anything other than my big brothers. To this day, I still greet them as “big bro.” So, I reached out to them on Facebook, and one of them called me. We greeted each other as though it hasn’t been forever since we talked. I asked him how he was doing.
“I’m holding on” he said. Then he asked me what I wanted to know. It was hard, because I’ve not really ever had a conversation like this, and I was scared. I was scared of the answer he would have. But I took a leap of faith and asked him, “Have I ever done anything that made you think I was racist or judgmental?” He paused for a few seconds before answering. And his answer blew me away.
“Do you remember the guy I was really close with in high school?”
“Yeah. We all hung out a lot.”
“Well after high school, he began to change. After I got back from deployment, he said and did things that I didn’t like. You never did that. When we were in school, you always treated me like family. You never had anything mean to say. You were always caring. When I was deployed, you would check in on me. My skin color never mattered to you. And even though we don’t talk often, I know you care.”
“Wow,” I thought. I wanted to cry. I could tell it wasn’t just to make me feel better, but it was an honest answer. Then I asked another question.
“What can I do to help educate my kids?”
“Kids are taught how to act,” he said. “They aren’t born with hate. Teach them to treat others as they want to be treated. Teach them to stand up for what’s right. If they see someone being bullied because of the color of their skin, or for other reasons, teach them to stand up for the person who is being bullied.”
We talked for a little while longer. I asked how he’s been handling all this craziness that’s been going on. He’s a vet like me and suffers from PTSD and nightmares from his time overseas. He told me that he wants to go to a protest, but with his PTSD, it wouldn’t be a good idea. I suffer from a bad panic disorder from my time in the military too, and I told him that even though I didn’t know what he was going through, I was here for him. I asked how his wife was. He said she wanted to go to a protest too but works from home and hasn’t had the time. I told him that I was here if either of them needed anything.
And I think that’s the point. It’s in the Bible more than a hundred times: love thy neighbor as thyself. Loving your neighbor is more than words. Love is a verb; an action word. Love is doing, not just talking. Loving my neighbor and showing that love through my actions is what Jesus called us to do. Just being there for someone is loving them. Treating them the way I want to be treated. Treating them like a human being, like they matter. And it shouldn’t matter what my neighbor looks like. Jesus loves everyone, no matter their color, actions, beliefs, or sins. And so should I. And that is what I aim to do. That’s how I can make a difference. And that’s what I can teach my kids. Because everyone is precious to Jesus.
“…whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command…” Galatians 5:14