What Remains

I find some sort of strange satisfaction in loving the unloved.

Saturday morning, my parents and I began our 18-hour adventure to Notre Dame. I'm moving in a few days earlier to help out with freshman orientation. Along the way, we're stopping in a few places that are very dear to my heart. Today and tomorrow, we're spending time at my grandparents' lake house. Tuesday night, we're spending a few hours at my summer home, Hesed House - a homeless shelter just outside of Chicago where I lived, served, and learned for eight weeks. In quiet moments as we take the boat out on the lake, watching the sunset, I find my whole being just rushing with excitement at the thought of holding those children's sweet faces in my hands once again. Even at dinner time, while my body is excited to satisfy its hunger after being out on the jet ski all day, my mind is elsewhere. With each bite I take, I think of the many meals and stories I shared with my friends at Hesed this summer, totally overwhelmed with joy at the thought of getting to do it all over again Tuesday night.
Transitioning from Hesed House life to Dallas life has been very odd, to say the least. When I share my love for the people of Hesed with my friends and family back home, the reactions always surprise me. Oftentimes, people wonder how I could possibly even have a normal conversation with homeless people. So you can imagine their confusion when I call these same homeless people my "great friends." Friends with a homeless person? How could that be? What a weird concept.

No. STOP. It's not weird at all. It's so easy for us to start thinking that way, but plain and simple, it has to stop. I've realized it's all mental - any kind of judgment is. Judging others is a mental strain we put on ourselves and the world, limiting the potential of the human being in front of our eyes before we even give that person a chance to prove himself or herself.
I've come to realize that I have a thing for loving the unloved. Since I was a little girl, I've always told myself that when I am lonely, the only thing to cure my loneliness is the act of reaching out to those far lonelier than I. It's comforting to know that when I am lonely, when I am experiencing heart ache, depression, or failure, there's at least one other person on this planet feeling just as I am. That's the incredible thing about the world in which we live. At any given moment, you're bound to find someone who understands exactly what you're going through. So take advantage of the people God has placed in your life because chances are, they are His way of speaking to you, telling you exactly what you need to hear to become the best version of yourself.

I'm all about relationships. My ideal day would be having five coffee dates in a row, chatting with people about their lives, hearing their stories, coming to know them as a person sometimes not necessarily through their words, but through the way they carry themselves, their posture, their expressions, their eyes. In high school, some of my greatest memories with my friends were all about conversation. I never forget the things people tell me, their trials and tribulations, their little victories, their sparks of strength that carry them through the day.

I want to love the people in my life better. Every time people speak to me, I want to be fully engaged in their words, the sound of their voices, and who they are as individuals. To me, there's nothing more beautiful than a person's story, and there's nothing more fragile and more in need of love than the human heart. I believe that the sole purpose in our lives is to love and be loved, in the name of our great God.

I want to keep this fascinating concept with me wherever I go, this idea of loving and being loved. Perhaps this is why I find myself so in awe of the unloved. I love loving the unloved. When human beings are in their most fragile state of physical or mental brokenness, I want to wrap my arms around them, gently, softly, and hold their faces in my hand, and remind them that no matter the brokenness, hope remains. No matter the brokenness, hope remains. Say these words to yourself slowly at first, then faster, faster. Repeat them out loud if you have to. Let them become your anthem, your victory march, your battle cry. No matter the brokenness, hope remains.
I want my life to be a proclamation of hope, a dedication to the broken. Like any other individual on this planet, I often find myself caught in my own sufferings, living within the confines of my own selfish heart, avoiding the tip-toe into the unknown. Yet when you finally tip-toe out of the comfort of your own self, you'll notice in amazement just how much you will be comforted by the love of the greatest Comforter of all, our sweet Jesus. The more uncomfortably you choose to live for Him, the more you will be rewarded with the comfort of His love. It's not that Christ loves those who serve Him more than those who don't. My point is simply that the more you love the unlovable of this world, the more you will understand just how much Christ is so madly, unbelievably in love with you. After all, as Christians, we find it is possible to love and to forgive the inexcusable in others because God has forgiven the inexcusable in ourselves (C.S. Lewis).

My sweet, dear readers, this is my challenge for you this week. Love the unlovable. Love the unlovable because God has chosen to love you, little imperfect you, in your most unlovable of moments. The times you have betrayed Him, hated Him, and chosen to stray from and disregard every good gift with which He has blessed you, in each of these moments, He has loved you. And the thing is, it's not even a choice for Him. It's just a natural reaction. He is so consumed with love for you that He doesn't even think twice about loving, forgiving, or cherishing every little tiny detail about you and your life. When we see failure and brokenness within ourselves, all He notices is good. Let's start seeing ourselves and others in the same way. We were created to love and be loved. No matter the brokenness, hope remains. No matter the person, love is due. No matter the life, joy is to be found.
Look at that sweet joy on the face of a homeless child, abused and broken. Yet there lies hope, love, joy, and promise. Hope, love, joy, promise - this is what remains when all feels lost. If he can do it, you can do it.

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