It’s been a pretty stressful few days in the life of Bryan, all the procrastination is slowly catching up with me, and I think I’m currently in the ‘acceptance’ phase of bereaving whatever hopes of a good exam grade I once aspired to.
Joanna came up to me recently and told me that she’d been praying for us medics during our exams. She is an amazing human being, today we concluded that she must live outside of time because there’s absolutely no way she manages to serve so much and generally be a university student, jeez I feel like I’m slacking off standing next to her! She told me that she wanted to help my friend and I out by cooking for us, because she saw how stressed we both were the last time we hung out. The impact of this is only really hitting me now.
Today we were tackling Romans 13 the middle bit talks about loving your neighbour as we love ourselves. This is something that’s thrown around a lot in Christian circles, especially as a kid in Sunday School. We used to sing it all the time! But what does this really look like? In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices, which is a bit of a ghastly phrase, in my opinion, but what it describes is beautiful. Imagine a society where everyone lived this way, where you would joyfully put the needs of others before yourself. But to do this, it says, we must first love ourselves.
For me, this looks like taking a break when I’m really stressed out. Putting work aside and making some food, sleeping a little earlier, waking up a little later. Taking the day off to go on a bike ride when it’s really sunny. Buying myself a new shirt or a new pair of shoes. Spending time with myself, making time for friends, going out. Reading, painting, taking pictures. This list is going to be different for everyone but the concept is the same. We’re pretty good at it. Now imagine the audacious proposition of doing this for other people? Doing someone’s laundry so they can have a few extra couple of hours in bed, offering to take care of someone’s kids so they don’t have to rush home from work, offering to cook lunch for a bunch of frazzled medics!
Joanna showed me, in a completely intentional act of kindness, a little glimpse of what its like to love genuinely, and its amazing!
As much as we should be doing these acts of love, we must also be willing to accept and receive them. Galatians 6 tells us that we’re to bear one another’s burdens. It’s telling us that we should be willing to be a burden to others, open up to them, move beyond the “I’m fine thanks” and really allow them to step into your life and share it with you, arm in arm.
These thoughts have really challenged me recently. The culture in London, although wonderful in its own respects, is difficult to change overnight, and frankly, I don’t like thinking about what happens outside my little university bubble. There is definitely a darker side to living than I could ever imagine. However, in our own little way, we can take steps to improving the lives we impact on a daily basis.
If you’ve ever had one thing, however small, completely make your day, then pay it forward. Let’s live life loving.