I'm a small(er) town guy. Grew up in Port Angeles, did a stint in the big city of Portland for education and experience, but ultimately landed back in my home town. Why? Because I love it. I love the pace of life. I love the beauty. I love being able to run out my front door and 10 minutes later be on the waterfront trail virtually by myself on a calm summer morning. With that being said, no matter where I live or where I go, that NEED to love remains. I've also realized that it's less about loving the things around me and much more about loving the people around me. You can be planted in some pretty crumby places and if you love those around you, contentment can settle in.
How do we love when the loving is not that easy? That's a question worth exploring because we often find ourselves there. I'm certain you even have some faces popping into your mind right now. Or maybe it's not a particular person that is rubbing you the wrong way, but life in general. Have you been dealt a blow you just can't seem to get a handle on? Been there as we all most certainly have. In these times we have to dig in and dig deep to mine out of ourselves some of the goodness that God has deposited. I'm specifically talking about the ability to have compassion on others.
In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 14, we read that Jesus has just been dealt one of these harsh life blows. He gets the news that John (the Baptist), a beloved relative and friend, has been beheaded as the result of a spoiled little girls birthday request. Jesus immediately withdrew to a private, solitary place, most likely to mourn and pray. Soon after, because of his growing notoriety, probably cutting his prayer time short, a crowd that was following began to gather. If any of you have small children that instinctively know the moment you go in the bathroom and start knocking you know the feeling. If ever there was a time that Jesus needed a break, didn't want to extend love or do anything for anyone, this would have been it. But he didn't react this way. The way we most often default to. Instead, he modeled a way to mine our souls for love. He modeled compassion. The Bible says he looked at the crowd upon returning from that place of solitude and he had compassion on them, and then continued on and healed their sick. This was an act of love begun by compassion.
So what do we do when we don't feel like loving? Stop, look around, and begin to place yourself in the shoes of those around you. Think of those that took time out to have compassion on you the last time you were a mess. Everyone has a bad day. Everyone does things they don't normally do. And everyone is deserving of a second chance. Mining is not easy though. It's laborious, dirty, exhausting work and that's exactly how you're going to feel as you begin to love the unlovable. As you make headway and as you feel that inkling of compassion for others begin to start you'll begin to see the gold...the gold in each of God's creations. We need this. To love and to be loved. In fact, it's the reason we are here in the first place.