A few years ago, a car almost hit my husband and firstborn son.
They walked toward our vehicle after a baseball game, and a woman backing up didn’t see them. My husband picked up our son, moving him out of the car’s path, and braced himself for impact.
Thankfully, the woman saw them at the last second. She jumped out of her car, hysterical and apologizing. My husband remained calm and told her they were okay, not wanting to add to her already panicked state.
They drove away from that night safe, but my son was never the same.
“Dadda, that car was going to hit you,” he said.
“Yes. It was. And whose job is it to protect you?”
“Yours,” he said, reflecting on what happened.
He’d heard it over and over. But that evening in early spring, he saw it. The words became real to him. And he knew his dad wasn’t tossing out some clichéd phrase or trying to soothe his fears with empty promises.
He meant it. He took ownership of those words in a moment where his life was at stake.
When we see love in action, it changes us.
It propels us. We see glimpses of a Creator who displayed the ultimate act of love in his death. But often, we’re distracted. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty.
We live in a world bombarded with countless alerts, news feeds and opinions. When someone expresses her deepest grief, we can respond without even typing words. A simple click-hold and we can choose from a range of five emotions. What more do we need right?
Every time I open my laptop, I see the apathy that consumes our world. When I dwell on it, my mind goes to a dark place.
But do you know what God whispers to me when I’m sitting in the quiet? When I don’t feel big enough to make a difference or loud enough to be heard, he whispers.
There is power in showing up.
When your friend receives the diagnosis and you don’t know what to say, begin by showing up.
When you don’t see your widowed, disabled neighbor for days, show up.
When your son breaks down in tears at the bus stop, show up.
I know the power of showing up because I’ve been on the receiving end of it. A few months before our first son arrived, a new acquaintance gave me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. I was in a new town, over two thousand miles from family, and I only knew a few people. But after giving birth I went through a dark season. I struggled to make it to bedtime.
In the midst of depression, lack of sleep and long days in an empty house, I forgot the promise of friendship.
I didn’t think to call because I was simply trying to survive.
Until she showed up.
Uninvited, at my front door, with treats in hand and her kids on each side of her. I was in my PJs and it was after noon, but she didn’t care. What she cared about was me.
Like my son who saw his dad become a superhero, I saw love in action that day. I saw a person who wasn’t throwing out empty words, but was willing to be a friend. Even when it was uncomfortable. Even when it felt as though I didn’t have anything to offer.
I want to be that person. I want to be the one who sticks around even when everyone else leaves. I want to put skin in the game and love like I mean it. Will you join me?
When we do, lives are changed.
When we take off the blinders of the everyday and see what’s in the peripheral, love becomes real.