Erring on the Side of Love

November 12, 2014

This past week I came across a Facebook post from a dear friend sharing about all the trouble her son has experienced as of late. Things beyond his control -- hospital stays, medical bills, and stolen vehicles -- all within a couple months' time. She ended by saying they are just "done."

And I paused, stopped scrolling. Taking in the gravity of what it must be like to experience all those troubles so close together. I know I want to help.

I copy her status and send it to the elders of my church, asking if we can help.

We’re a small group, meeting on Sunday mornings in a local school with nothing about us that would appear flashy or showy. But we’ve committed to giving away 50 percent of everything that comes in each week to meet the needs of our community, and I know this is another way we may be able to help.

Over the past couple of years, I have loved being a part of this small community of believers. We’ve been able to help the homeless through serving meals and volunteering at local shelters. We’ve painted schools and planted trees, given money to help missionaries working with abused girls, given funds to people when their house burned down and paid for single moms to attend a retreat just for them, among many other things.

Eleanor and I with a check for strangers we've never met
And it isn’t too long before I get a reply back, Yes, we’d like to help. Of course we’ll give. How does $5,000 sound?

And I can’t help but smile. SO thankful to be part of this community. No red tape. No bureaucracy. No one wondering what they’ll give back to us or how we’ll see a return on the money.

Just a simple Yes, we’ll help.

I message my friend, wondering if I can meet her the next day to give her a small gift from Kyle and I for her son. She agrees and we plan to meet at her place of work.

The next day, as I come in the front door, I’m greeted warmly with a hello and a hug. My friend and I spend the next little while talking about life, catching up. I realize it’s been too long since I’ve seen her.

As we near the end of our visit, I hand her the gift, pull out the check and say, “This isn’t weird, but I go to a church and we give away 50 percent of our weekly giving to the community. When we hear of needs, we try to meet them. It’s not much, but we’d love to help your son and his family. There’s no need for a thank you. It's a gift. No strings attached.”

And as my friend looks at me, tears in her eyes, I can’t help but smile back as we embrace again.

Because this isn’t about what I can do for someone else; this is about loving other people in the flow of life. Our stories may be as varied as the grains of sand by the sea, but we all know what it is to have a need. We all know the heartache and the joy of life.

And all I know is that I have been helped. When life took turns in unexpected ways, others were there to lift me up. Like the time Kyle lost his job and we were renting a house from our dear friends who, after finding out, said, “Don’t worry about rent this month; we’ve got you covered.”

Or when my very used and battered car needed to be fixed (yet again) and my mechanic—seeing me, a young college girl, and knowing I couldn’t afford everything—crossed things off my bill quietly before stepping out to the garage. Too quickly for me to thank.

What is life for but to support one another, even those we do not know, when times get hard?

A statement I have come to live by is this: I will always err on the side of love.

I know there are those who would say that I am naïve. They say I'll be taken advantage of, used. And while they may have a point, I simply don’t care. I don’t believe you can use someone who willing gives out of what they know has simply been given to them.

When, really, I am not so naïve. I know there is ugliness and pain out there.

As a social worker, I’ve held the hand of those who were dying, comforted family members as they lost loved ones. I’ve worked with veterans, listened to their stories of war, horrors they’d shared with no one else, barely able to whisper about atrocities while tears streaked down their cheeks.

As a foster mom, I’ve heard stories--too many stories--of abuse towards children. And as an adoptive mom, I’ve held my own child as they cry for their biological parents, now deceased.

No, I am not blind to what happens in the world.

I just believe that there is something greater. Something good. And I believe we find it when we stop complaining about what we don’t have, become thankful for what we do, and look for others we can help along the way.

When we all decide to err on the side of love.

A few resources that have helped to shape (and change!) my worldview over the past couple of years are: The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne (an oldie but a goodie), Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture (Exponential Series) by Brandon Hatmaker and Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus by Hugh Halter. These books have absolutely made a difference, not only the way I view others, but also the way I treat and respond to people, God, and the church.

Being that I'm a reader, I'd like to know: what books have you found that have had an impact on or helped shape who you are and your beliefs? We'd love to hear from you!

We are once again linking up with the lovely Holley Gerth.

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  1. This is awesome! It warms my heart to see the church being "the church." And you are not even close to naïve. You are loving and kind. I love that about you. As for books, I think "Under the Overpass" made a huge difference in the way I view the homeless.

    1. Thanks Nancy! I absolutely loved that book too! How could I forget it?!? Did you see him speak a few years ago at spring conference? He was excellent.

  2. I love love LOVE the story and I love your heart! That is how we need to live!