Why should I want to bother with showing love to a stranger anyway? Two very simple reasons come to mind immediately. First, my little girls are watching me, they will learn how to treat other people by how I treat other people. Second, my main purpose in life is to honor God and point people to Him….the best way to do that is to show His love to them. So, I guess I should hand out sloppy hugs to everyone I see then? Uh no, not exactly. That wouldn’t be awkward at all. Very practically speaking, here are ten ways I can very easily show love to another human being whom I have never met and probably will never see again….but who may be forever touched by a stranger’s momentary gesture.
- Use people’s names. People love to hear their own name, it’s the highest form of flattery. It shows you care who they are personally, if you make the effort to find out a person’s name and use it when speaking to them.
- Show genuine interest. Ask someone a question, and then be genuinely interested in what they have to say. This shows that person that I think they are important…they aren’t just a customer, or just a person hired to help me, they are an individual person of value. One way we do this in my family, is to ask waiters at restaurants before we pray for our meal if there is any need they have that they would like us to pray for…you’d be surprised how people will just melt when you show genuine interest in them.
- Don’t criticize. Got complaints? Keep them to yourself. Chances are the person you wish to vent on, is not the person responsible for whatever it is that has got your hair in a frizz.
- Say please and thank you. It’s not just for kids who want a sucker, it’s for adults too. Try saying it to the girl in the drive through, she might enjoy being addressed as a human for a change, rather than a mechanical arm delivering big macs out a window. People will naturally respond to you in like form when addressed in a kind and gracious manner…nobody likes to be barked at. It certainly won’t hurt anyone’s feelings to show appreciation by saying thank you either.
- Smile. It costs nothing, and more often than not, you’ll get it back. Everyone you meet is carrying a burden and fighting their own fight…I don’t have to know anything about all that, but I can encourage them just by offering a smile. Try walking through a store and smiling at everyone who makes eye contact. You will come out of that store happier than when you went in, and so will everyone who saw you!
- Be patient. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at the check out line with someone behind me literally running their cart into my ankles because they can’t wait 7.5 seconds for me to stuff my wallet into my purse, push my heaping grocery cart with my elbow out of the way, as I’m wrangling my two year old bent on acquiring that tempting bag of M&M’s she spies, all the while balancing on one foot using the other to nudge my oblivious four year old out of the oncoming rush of an energetic stream of shoppers. We all have times when we need other people to be patient with us, let’s show the same courteousness to others. It will brighten their day in ways you can’t imagine.
- Look people in the eye to talk to them. Respect isn’t just for kids to show to parents. I can show someone they are valuable to me by putting the phone down, ignoring my child for a minute, and speaking to them while looking directly into their eyes. I am saying to them, you are worth my time and attention.
- Leave things cleaner than you found them. I am (and most of us are!) capable of picking up my own trash, and putting my own things away. Just because someone may be getting paid to clean up, doesn’t mean I have leave it for them to do. What a simple way to be a blessing to some tired worker!
- Be aware of other people’s existence. I’m talking basic manners here. If I bump into you, walk in front of you, or step on your foot, the polite thing to say is “excuse me.” It’s not hard, really. Just try it. People will feel so validated to know they aren’t invisible.
- Have a sense of humor. You know that time you had one thing to buy and there was only one register open with fifty people in line in front you? Or the time you tried to vehemently pursued the people at CVS that you had pictures developed for pick up, when they were actually ready for pick up at Walgreens? (Not that I would know anything about that…) Try looking at the funny side of the situation instead of glowering darkly at the poor soul desperately trying to give you service. They will appreciate a laugh, it’s probably they only one they’ll get for their entire 10 hour shift.
Guess what? Just ’cause I wrote all that doesn’t mean I’m an expert at it, you think I write these posts just to challenge you? Ha! Really, I just want a chance to tell people about a God who loves them, and who wants a relationship with them…and I’m not even going to get my foot in the door to do that, if I’m acting like I own everyone. People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.
Our kids wouldn’t need a federally funded anti-bulling campaign if they were learning from our example how to treat one another with love. Something is lacking that the Feds aren’t going to be able to fix with spiffy websites and peppy slogans…no more than a shiny new tooth brush will fix an existing cavity. You and I, the individual, can fix it. Our kids learn from us, we set the example. We are all just individuals, but individuals can make a massive impact on society if we take our ability to influence those around us seriously.
The best way to learn how to show love, is to know the founder of it, God. The more I learn about Him, the more I talk to Him, then the more I will understand His love and be able to show His love to other people. He is the answer, and always will be.
Mark 12:30-31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
P.S. Liked what you read? This is our day on the blog to refocus. You can find more Refocus Challenge posts HERE.
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