When did we stop caring about others? When did we become so focused on ourselves, that everyone else took a backseat; or further than that.
I’m not saying this is everyone but I see it more and more. I find myself guilty of this too.
Here’s one example: Last week we had our first real snow of the winter. My teenager had a class where he leaves the high school and drives to another school to tutor younger kids, then drives back. The road he was on was still snow covered. He fish tailed around a corner and slid off in a ditch. Being the teenager that he is, he had no coat or gloves, just a hoodie. His car was stuck and for some reason he had left his phone at home.
Another high school student drove by and slowed down a little. My son flagged her down and she rolled down her window and just said “what do you want?” As if it wasn’t obvious with his car in the ditch. He asked her if he could borrow her phone to call someone to come get him. She sighed loudly, and with much attitude told him yes but make it quick. Never asked if he was ok, took her phone back and off she went.
So my child walked back to the closest school, with temps in the teens, wearing no coat or gloves, to wait for someone to pick him up and pull his car out.
At wrestling practice later that day a couple of freshman boys were making fun of him for going in the ditch (as if he didn’t feel bad enough already).
So what have we done? Kids learn from example. They model their behaviors after those they are around. As parents we need to be accountable for the actions of our children.
What do they see us doing? How do they see us treating others? Do we jump in to help a stranger in need? Do we hold a door for someone or offer a smile or a kind word?
We aren’t perfect, none of us are. But are we doing the best we can? Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t even see the needs of those around us?
Philippians 2:4 tells us: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Teach your kids. They are the ones that will then teach their kids who will probably be taking care of you one day. Elderly sit in nursing homes with minimal visitors because people are too busy to go and visit their parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents.
You can start with something simple…every time we are out and someone is approaching a door about the same time as us or right behind us, I always tell my older son to get the door and hold the door. I don’t even know why I still tell him. I’ve been making him do it since he was big enough to pull open the door and hold it. I’m certain he would do it even if I didn’t tell him. I know he does it when I am not with him.
Try to keep your eyes aware to people in need around you. I’m guilty of this too. Today I was at church getting stuff ready for the food pantry tomorrow. I hadn’t locked myself in like I normally do and a man came in asking for diapers and toilet paper. I found myself wondering why he couldn’t just wait until tomorrow. I caught myself getting a little annoyed that he came a day early. But really? I had to stop a minute. All he was asking for was a roll of toilet paper and a pack of diapers. His kids just got dropped off to him because their mom got locked up. He had to take the older one to the hospital for something and still had to pick up two more kids. He didn’t want the food today, he would be back at 10am tomorrow for that. He just wanted diapers. And was so grateful & gave me a hug and out the door he went.
The Lord keeps blessing our food pantry ministry so that we can bless others. When you have something, you don’t send people away and tell them to come back another day when it’s more convenient for you. You help them in the moment if it’s possible.
The girl that didn’t want to let my son use her phone–she probably didn’t want to be late getting back to school. What’s more important? Getting a tardy after explaining what happened or helping out a fellow classmate that’s stuck in the snow.
Challenge yourself this year. Challenge your kids or your spouse. Make it a point to do one nice thing every day. It could be something as simple as telling a clerk they are doing a good job. Telling a mom with a screaming toddler that they are doing a great job and this phase will pass. Telling a stranger good morning.
Be intentional at looking around you and beyond yourself to others.