Updated: Apr 23, 2018
We made it to the O in JOY! Today we get to talk about loving others in our pursuit of a joyful life!
Has anyone read the book Love Does by Bob Goff? Bob is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t heard of Love Does, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read it! I had the opportunity to hear Bob speak in Nashville last year and felt like I could take on the world after his message. He reminds me of a really tall, funny and sort of goofy/awesome cheerleader; full of positive energy and charisma. Here is a picture of Kyle, yours truly, Bob and our friends, Lauren and Mike!
In his book, Love Does, Bob challenges readers to love the people who creep us out the most. When I first heard this idea I thought to myself, “This guy is on something.” But over time, I’ve realized Bob has a great point! When we start to love the people who creep us out the most, we are loving in the exact same way Jesus did. Jesus loved the creeps; he loved everybody! Who do you have a tough time loving well? That person is your creep!
If we start by loving the creeps first, I think the people we hold close will be easier to love and sacrifice for. This is training in selflessness; it takes work. We have to train ourselves in selflessness because for most of us it doesn’t come naturally. We have to put one foot in front of the other and practice walking closer to being who Jesus called us to be even when we don’t feel like it! Training in selflessness creates a more generous heart.
Does anyone hate sharing food? If you do, you have something in common with my husband. My family is Italian and loud and shares everything, including food. When Kyle and I first started dating, I assumed I was given rights to his dinner plate as well as my own. Turns out, I was WRONG.
On one of our first dates, Kyle took me to a nice, southern restaurant in Nashville. He ordered crispy fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and I ordered a thick, savory, perfectly cooked pork chop. I made the mistake of putting my fork onto his plate to try a bite of his macaroni and cheese without asking and got the death stare. Y’all – I’m not kidding. I thought he was going to ask me to leave.
Kyle is an only child and grew up never needing or wanting to share his food. He did not have to think about another person because it was just him! He comes by the anti-food sharing honestly.
Lucky for me, dating turned into marriage, and Kyle’s heart has softened toward sharing. This has taken time and practice. When he bites into a yummy meal now, he offers me a bite because he wants me to taste and experience its goodness as well. He isn’t as interested in having it all for himself. He wants to share his joy!
Does he enjoy sharing food all of the time? Probably not! But, because he loves me and knows I like to share, he practices showing selflessness by giving even when he might not feel like it. This is not just with food, but with time, support, finances and more. We work together on the simple things so that when the more challenging issues face us, our selflessness comes with ease.
When Jesus takes over our hearts and minds, we can’t help but to care about what he cares about. We get uncomfortable for others because He got uncomfortable for us. He compels us to move toward what He moves toward; loving others first (and sharing food).
Who can you put first today ahead of yourself? Who can you show kindness to?
Another way we can love others first is by volunteering.
My first job after graduating from Clemson was at a marketing agency in Atlanta, GA. Work was a tough adjustment for me. I went from college parties, friends and freedom to feeling lonely and tied to a desk all day. I was thankful for a job, but womp, womp, right? I’m sure some of you can relate!
After a few months of my new, riveting desk routine I felt the Lord nudge me to get involved at church. I was attending services each Sunday, but waved at the greeters and went on my merry way afterward. I remember thinking, “Okay God. I hear you. You want me to get involved. But where? Who do you want me to help? Throw me a bone here.”
I prayed and asked God where He wanted me to start and all I could think about was elementary aged children. I reached out to the church leaders and guess where they needed help? Kindergartners. Surprise, surprise, right? God used me to meet a need. He can use you too if you open your heart and schedule enough to let him!
Every Sunday at 9:00 AM I had a class of sweet, little 5 year olds ready to see “Miss Mandy” for their one hour of church. I’ll be completely honest – I did not hop out of bed every Sunday giddy and ready to serve. Getting up early on a Sunday was a sacrifice at times, but always worth it.
I truly grew to love serving and connecting with children. Week after week, they thought I was teaching them. The truth is, they taught me more than they know. They taught me what it looks like to have a childlike faith. No prayer was too big for them. God didn’t have limits in their eyes. Isn’t it funny how we grow older and start to think we can’t do things? We doubt ourselves and our God. Children don’t give thought to doubt. They simply believe because why not?
The Lord will enrich your life in ways you never dreamed when you dedicate time to serving others. I never thought I would grow spiritually from leading 5 year olds but when I reflect back on the time I spent with them my heart feels full; it feels joy.
I know you are busy. Everyone is busy. But God can do more through one hour of selfless giving than we can do with a lifetime on our own. Life, faith and purpose start to come into focus when you realize it’s not all about you.
One of my favorite verses is Matthew 20:28, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus had the power to demand whatever He wanted on earth but He didn’t. He served, loved and raised us up above Himself as a perfect example for us to follow. You are valuable and so are your gifts! Gifts are meant to be shared, and the valuable people around you need you!
Don’t let fear or unknowns hold you back from using your gifts to serve. Volunteering is cool at any age! Start by asking God where he wants to use you and go from there. You can make a difference!
There are plenty of opportunities in your area to serve others if you take time to find them! Check out a homeless shelter, a Boys and Girls Club, or maybe a local food bank. The church isn’t the only place that needs your help. Check out your options and figure out what feels right for you. You never know what great gifts are in store for you if you don’t try!
Moral of the story: you are important and needed! I’m SO excited to hear about how you are moving toward a life of joy through serving others. You can do this!
Next week we are going to discuss what it looks like to take care of yourself so that your joy is complete!
Have a great day!
(Also, here is a link to Love Does if you are interested in reading!)
· Who creeps you out the most and why? How can you take one, small step to showing love toward them today?
· What can you do today to show someone love when you might not feel like it? Get out of your comfort zone and start practicing selflessness!
· What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? Take time to identify your gifts and passions and put them to work so that you can start serving and living a life of abundant joy.