A friend of mine recently watched our pets while we were out of town for Christmas. When I came home, I was gifted a few essential items that would prevent me from having to take a trip to the grocery store after 16 hours in the car with people I love dearly, yet had not been further than 10 feet away from for an entire week.
If anyone tells you there is no such thing as too much time with your family, they have never driven 16 consecutive hours in the car with them and then done it again seven days later.
When I got home, there was an unexpected surprise in my fridge.
No, it wasn’t just the week-old leftovers that had the beginnings of a sprinkling of mold — like the first dusting of snowfall on a cold winter ground. Festive, maybe. But not unexpected.
What was in my fridge was: eggs, milk, and a loaf of bread topped with bows.
My heart filled with warmth. Not just because of the gesture that someone thought to pick up a few items for us so we would not have to rush to the store. Of course, it was the thoughtfulness, but mostly, it was the fact that she simply purchased these items for us as normally as she would have for her own family.
No one had ever done this for me before.
I’ve met many people in my lifetime who are good people. But I have met few who are truly selfless. Good people with no other desire than to be good. The person who will not only say, “Yes you can use my washing machine” because your laundry room is torn apart and being remodeled. But that person also says, “I have done all my laundry ahead just in case you need it.”
Love isn’t always something as grand as starting a homeless shelter or donating millions of dollars. Love is found in such small acts, simple deeds of everyday life.
As I cruise deeper into my faith and this nudge towards learning to love others, I find it’s been harder to accept people’s shortcomings. Which is silly, I have more than my fair share of flaws that I conveniently forget about. Yet when people are so peopley, it’s upsetting to me. I’m a work in progress and I have a long way to go before I’m loving the way I need to be. But the people coming into my life these days are all people who show me how to love with simple acts of friendship. They do not want anything in return, they only want to offer the love they have.
If I have learned anything in life about people so far, it’s that they come and go. Often, because we need something from them and they need something from us. When they get what they want, sometimes they stay. When we get what we want, sometimes we leave.
It’s hard to not get bitter.
It’s hard not feel used.
But every time this happens, it’s a chance for me to ask myself, “When have I done this to others?”
On the path to learning how to love, I am finding the people that I surround myself with are so important. We all need selfless people to show us what love really is. To serve for the sake of joy. People to show us the way when we can’t really find it. Or we need someone to follow.
I hope I find that joy someday.
I hope one day I can be the kind of friend who can offer a stranger the kind of love a simple carton of milk, eggs, and a loaf of bread gave to me.
Copyright 2019 Christina Antus