From belief to doubt to love part 1

From belief, to doubt to love part 2

I care deeply about people and want them to feel loved. One of my principle ways of doing this is thoughtful intentional listening and probing questions to help them open up. My goal was always to console past hurts and pains.

I had many experiences pouring time and energy into others in this way. I was always happy and joyous about the opportunity and saw the blessings and the fruit. It was a signature part of who I was and how I loved people. Then I met Eric.

Eric had previously been known to be a very happy go lucky energetic individual. Everyone on campus knew who he was. We had very opposite upbringings. He was raised mostly by a single mother from divorced parents just above poverty. I was raised by two married parents in a middle class home. However, we always respected each others point of view and enjoyed our conversations that stretched our previous beliefs. I was looking forward to my year with him as a roommate.

Unfortunately, the happy bubbly individual I had known went through an identity crisis and began wallowing in all of his childhood daddy and family issues. I was happy to help despite my own identity crisis where I was terrified of who I would become and that our conversations were rarely conducive to my sleep cycle.

He believed that he was a sham on the outside pretending to always happy. Now he was going to live in each moment honestly. He wanted so bad to have some sort of female affection. And many things like that. On several occasions I gave up what turned out to be a whole letter grade in order to spend time listening and sympathizing with him. Worth it.

I was falling into my own pit of depression, but still I made it a point to share in his life. A girl he had been good friends with had written him a letter saying he was sexy. Most of the conversation I do not remember, but this, “You know what she said, she thought I was sexy. Sexy? Me?” He was rather overweight. “She has a boyfriend and yet she has been my friend and encouraged me. She wrote me a note. The only bit of encouragement I have had all semester. No one else has tried to be a part of my life or encourage me or understands what I am going through.”

Of course not. Especially not the guy sitting across from you two hours past his bedtime who was in the middle of spiraling towards thoughts of suicide. Nope no one.

It was at that moment that I realized… People suck. People will suck you dry of all of your energy. Then, in return. They just sit there and do nothing. No growth. No life change. No progress. Just a black hole sucking up all of the attention.

My identity was wrapped up in my ability to help effect a positive change in others. I had always been able to be some sort of a blessings in others lives, regardless of how small. And now someone who I thought was going to be a close friend threw out all of my loving efforts. My care was rejected and the seed of doubt was planted. If they can just throw away all of the care and attention, why bother?

Challenging Questions of The Heart: “Are People Worth It?” part i

                Over the last several years I have been asking myself the question, “Are People Worth It?” Are they worth the time I put into them? Are they even worth having relationships with? I don’t ask this question in relation to specific individuals. Most of my close trusted friends are most definitely worth it. I have relationships with them that I trust and have patiently put time into being trustworthy and trusting them. I ask this question about humanity in general.

                When I was growing up, I never asked this question. I loved and had faith in everyone I met. When I was in college I had several friends that I gave many late hours, and several letter grades in two classes for that all told me, “No one has done or cared for me.” I remember the exact conversation, where I was standing, where my friend was sitting. Several days after that conversation, I began to question whether it was all worth it. I know other people who have large communities around them trying to help them, and they make seemingly no progress. Are they worth it? For several years I have been answering that question, no. I lost faith in people.

                I often hear current ‘wisdom’ telling us that we need to have boundaries with these people.  We need to keep our time because we are not being responsible with our time if it is not showing fruit. That is a really nice way of saying some people just aren’t worth your time. Are their times when some people literally are using you for their needs? Yes. But we should keep boundaries with them not because they are not worth our time, but because “helping them” is not helping them.

                The act of judging whether or not people are “worth” our time is fairly arrogant. We don’t know the depths of the human heart, or what even goes on in others heads. We will never know on this side of eternity weather or not our actions saved someone from depression, gave them hope, or prevented suicide—even if we don’t see growth.

                As someone only human, I am exasperated when I do not see fruit from my labor of love. (Though I must be careful that I love the person, not the labor itself). I want to see people grow and become better people. I want to know that I helped them through rough times. But I must resist letting that desire become the goal. I must love people regardless of how they respond. How much has Christ loved us and done for us without us growing in fruit for long periods of time? Christ says that others are worth it, even when I can’t see it.