I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, what can I do to make this world a better place? To shine light and happiness on others? To amplify the goodness amongst a crazy world that we live?
These questions keep bumping around in my mind, but I’m doing my personal best to do something about answering them. I’m consciously choosing to make efforts to connect and care more for people because honestly, it’s 100% necessary. It’s a duty to humanity that you and I have and will have as long as the world is turning.
And the answer to what we can do to make the world better is very simple but very profound. We can genuinely connect with each other in a way we never have before. Now. Today. Tomorrow. Forever. We can learn to reconnect with each other as human beings… simply because we are all human beings that need connection.
I’ve been reading a book recently where author Joe McQ says the following: “We humans are not meant to depend on our individual selves; we are meant to rely on each other. God didn’t intend for us to be self-reliant; we are designed to rely on each other. And we are designed to rely on God.”
So how do we put more human connection, genuine care for people, and goodness that I’m referring to into our lives?
Recently I was passing a construction site up the road from my condo. As I approached the red light ahead, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a homeless man talking to one of the construction workers. They were looking at each other and in some sort of personal conversation. I saw the worker hand the man some sort of food, pat him on the shoulder and walk back over to his fellow employee with a clipboard… and just like that, he was back to work. And with food in hand, the dirty older man just continued his walk up the road.
Why do I speak of this? Because in that moment, a man was giving something to someone else outside of his daily routine and busy work schedule on a construction site. In that moment, they were connected. In that moment, that man was receiving nutrition, and some simple love and care simultaneously. And in that moment, without either of them knowing, I was watching from my car window being inspired to do the same.
Love breeds love, which breeds love.
Recently, two of the regular guests at a restaurant I work in, were dining in one Saturday evening. They’re a couple that is full of joy and encouragement and stories like you’ve never heard before; the kind of people that literally light up a room by just smiling or laughing. As they were getting ready to leave, they stood up from their table to give me a hug. At the same time, the couple in the booth behind them was also getting up from their seats to leave. Due to this, our hug-exchange was directly in the way of them getting around us. Instead of just moving out of the way though, our fabulous regulars not only apologized but offered open arms out to this other couple of two complete strangers they had never met before. “Would y’all like a hug too!?” And surprisingly enough, they accepted! Each person hugged the other with the biggest smiles of joy beaming across their faces; laughter and chatter going back and forth, too. Mind you, this was a white couple, and a black couple, making this beautiful hug-exchange.
As I stood nearby with tears welling in my eyes, the black woman began to pass me as I exclaimed, “We may as well have one more!” And with another hardy laugh, WE hugged too!
As we released from our embrace, I said to the woman, “Ya know, if life were more like this all the time, we probably wouldn’t have half of the problems we do in the world today.” This woman turned right back around to me and said, “We wouldn’t have a one.”
What if when you left a restaurant, each time, you turned to someone of a different race or different sexuality than you and offered them a hug? I mean seriously, think about what that would look like in this world. It’s ‘not socially normal,’ right? But what if it WERE?
New loving normals in this life begin with us. With me. With you.
Lastly, I was at a Mexican restaurant with my best friend recently and we were tired and simply catching up for a quick late-night bite. Our waitress had started off rather quiet for the first couple minutes of interaction with us.
When she came back to the table to mix the guacamole we had ordered, I sparked conversation… not just for the sake of doing it, but to really learn something about this woman. I made direct eye contact and asked her very genuinely, “How’s your night been tonight?”
That was all I did… just asked her a genuine, simple 5-word question. Her response was nothing short of weighted. She spoke easily at first about it being a slower night and how that was tough because the previous restaurant she worked at was busier. I continued to converse with her and found out she was putting herself through school and working there with her boyfriend to make the money they needed to live and go to school with. She continued to tell us that some of her family in Mexico had been ill and she had been stressing and worrying about that on top of everything. The more we listened, the more she shared.
Honestly, the girl talked a little longer than I would’ve even desired! Marissa and I looked at each other and smiled after we walked away, and she said, “You’re going to tip her extra aren’t you?” And of course, we BOTH did.
It didn’t matter that her talking and story took away from our visiting time. It didn’t matter that we let go of near 100% tips to our bills that we hadn’t planned to spend. It mattered that we had interacted with a total stranger in a way that was special and day-changing for both her AND us and left her day with maybe a little more hope than we came into her having… more hope for her, and more gratitude within us.
So here are my ideas for the rest of 2018, for navigating your own experiences of grace and connection in your life:
- At least once a day, make eye contact, use a genuine tone of voice, and ask anyone you come across “How’s your day/night been so far?” This goes for the barista at Starbucks, the gas station attendant, the grocery store bagger, the stranger waiting with you at the bus stop or riding the elevator… anyone! Don’t just ask to ask, ask to know! See how listening to others with a little more care and connection than usual could help someone… and could help you!
- Each week, ask yourself, ‘who did I help?’ I’ve been making this a goal to go back in my previous week each Sunday and take inventory of who I helped. Did I do something for someone? Did I inspire someone in some way so much that they let me know it? (If you’re a believer) Did I bring someone closer to Jesus? Take this mini-inventory and then start writing it down each time! What would your year look like if every week you were helping someone in some way? Maybe it’s the same person every week, and maybe it’s someone different!
- Each day, ask yourself, ‘what did I do to make ME better today.’ If we aren’t taking care of our own minds, bodies, and spirits, then we give too much away and have nothing left within. Be careful not to let this happen. Make it a goal that every day, you’re working out, reading positive affirmations, taking part in a group therapy or study, making yourself coffee first thing in the morning, smiling more often! Whatever it is that makes you better, do some of that every day!
The world sometimes seems like it is falling apart by the second nowadays, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can’t ignore the sadness or struggles in life, but we can enforce the goodness.
How do you live your life? Wallowing in the pains of your world or the world around you, or making a conscious effort to make things better for everyone? Think about it, and assess it! I believe that we are the change we want to see in this world, and I believe it is within us now and can start today.
Ask those questions, challenge yourself, love on a stranger, connect and listen. We can do this. And we can do it today! And if you decide to join me in this 3-part challenge, let me know how it goes for you! Let the world know! Share your joy with me and circulate it to those around you. It all begins within, and we’ve ALL got it within! Find it inside you.
Website : www.angelicakspence.com