May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had...
On Saturday morning I went on a long trail run with some friends. My sons joined us for the first 6 miles of our large loop, which was great fun. It was only 13 degrees outside, so having good clothing and making sure we were always moving to stay warm was a priority. I had to do some calculations to figure out when exactly we'd be hitting a road intersection-- then I could ask Bethany to arrive there as a pick up spot for the boys so that they weren't standing on their own, freezing in the cold as we continued. It was only an 8 minute drive from home... but on a day like that, seeing a warm minivan parked up ahead as you emerge from a trail is not a small thing! I was really grateful she showed up on time. And it's led me to consider our need for people to show up consistently in our lives.
I've been realizing how much I've needed people to show up for me during the struggle of these last years. I've also been thinking about how much impact my smallest actions of encouragement have had on others' spirits during the times that I've shown up for them. And by "showing up," I simply mean an action or a gesture that shows someone that we care about them and that they are not alone.
Our world can feel like a very cold place many days. When someone shows up for us, it creates pockets of warmth and safety that can almost be indescribable.
We are deeply porous beings. When someone shows us even a small amount of care, it permeates our spirit and changes our outlook. Our need for encouragement is not a weakness, as we are so often tempted to think. It's a means of continuing to draw us into the power of shared life. God made us this way. That's why the early church was not simply marked by a shared belief system, but by radical community. We crave it, even if we're embarrassed to admit it.
If a kind word from a complete stranger at the grocery store can shift our attitude, how much more powerful is a helping hand, a text message, or a check-in that reveals consistent care for another's life.
Central to the work of discipleship is a commitment to keep showing up for each other, knowing that isolation and self sufficiency are some of the hardest obstacles that we face as a community.
Now, I hear perspectives from time to time about people feeling like no one has shown up for them, and that they are forgotten. This can, of course, be true. But it's all too easy for us to look at community as a thing we consume and receive, rather than something we each create. If we begin by taking first steps to consistently show up for those around us, we often find that relationships deepen and become more mutual, lessening our own isolation and discouragement.
So today I'm just drawn to remind us all (me included) that little moments matter. Only Jesus can help you know who needs you to show up for them and what it might look like. But why not spend a bit of time today praying about it? Maybe a person will come to mind, or maybe a new idea to show love will emerge.
It's not enough to have care in our hearts for others. It has to be expressed in some real way, or else those around is will never know how beloved they are.
And I know, that may sound exhausting these days. But take heart...
I love that Paul told the Roman church that the ability to offer active care and encouragement to others was not through their own strength, but God's strength. It's ok if you don't have much to give. God will provide it and multiply what you have. You are never too empty to offer encouragement when God is the one supplying it.
It's too much for anyone person to show up for everyone. But it's truly possible for an entire community with the right heart posture. Let's joyfully do our part for others, and be honest about our needs as well. This is central to the work of God's church.
Jesus, show me one way that I can encourage someone today.