A few weeks ago I attended a ceremony at my nephew’s school and one of the teachers addressed the 8th-grade graduates. At that point, I had started to tune out some of the talking, but eventually she said something that caught my attention:
Be bold in your love.
She might have been talking about the things the graduates love to do, which… yes. Be bold in those things, too.
But my mind immediately went to the people in your life. Be bold in your love to the people in your life. Now, obviously, I don’t mean this in a creepy, harmful way. But we can be bold in a way that shows we care.
So often in conversations we’ll ask how someone we know is doing. “Have you talked to this person recently?” “Have you seen anything with them on social media?” “How are they doing?”
I don’t know why we do this. Why do we ask others for information we could find out ourselves? With so many people on social media, why can’t we hop on Facebook and find them? If they’re not posting, why can’t we reach out with a message to say, “Hi! It’s been awhile. How are you?”
Maybe it’s because we don’t want them to know we asked about them, in which case I have to ask again: why? If you don’t really care how they’re doing and you’re just being nosy, that’s not love. Don’t feel a need to be bold in your nosiness.
But if you thought of them because you genuinely care and you’d like to know how they’re doing, reach out to them if you can. If you’re friends on social media, send them a message to say hi. If you have a phone number, send them a text or call them. If you have a mailing address, send them a card. We don’t need to wait for Christmas to send mail.
Sometimes I wonder if what holds us back is fear. We’re afraid to reach out to them because… they might not respond back?
I mean, really. What’s the worst result that could happen? They might not respond. Chances are: they didn’t get your message. But if they did and they didn’t respond… So what? Your life will be exactly the same as it was before.
The biggest possibility is this: they will get your message and it will mean something to them. It will give them a little boost. It will let them know that someone thought about them, that someone cares. And you don’t know when someone needs to hear that message.
I work with churches and one thing that always comes up as a concern for the people they serve and the people in their communities is loneliness. People are experiencing loneliness at epidemic proportions. (Here’s a link to an article that one pastor sent out when the topic came up.)
And maybe it’s not even loneliness. Maybe it’s just a general sense of feeling like you haven’t been seen or that you’ve been left out. Maybe it’s a feeling of being… disconnected.
Outside of work, this feeling of being disconnected from others has come up in two conversations in the last month that come to mind right away. In one, a friend who’s good at keeping in touch with people said, “I often think if I stopped reaching out to others to see how long it would take them to get in touch with me, I’d be waiting a long time.”
In another, a friend and I were talking and I said, “Sometimes I think if I disappeared no one would notice until they needed something that I typically do.” And she said, “Yes, I know that feeling.”
If you’re bold in your love, you might reach out to someone and not receive a response. But if you’re bold in your love, you might let them know that someone cares. And that’s worth a lot.