Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
Navigating everything from complex transportation to unfamiliar places and tight spaces with all kinds of strangers, I find it easy sometimes to let the frustration overshadow my “better” and more well-mannered self.
Having recently returned from a trip abroad, I can say that the extreme unfamiliarities of international travel can exacerbate those feelings of frustration. But for that trip, I tried to take a new approach, inspired by a single sentence I read shortly before we embarked on our travels:
Love the one in front of you.
Of course, I can’t remember where I read it, but that line resonated deeply with me. Trying to live a good Christian life is difficult, and it sometimes seems like the bar is set so high that we have no hope of reaching it. However, this “mantra” of sorts stuck with me because it takes the charge of “loving your neighbor as yourself” and makes it more bite-sized.
After a rather frustrating experience at the airport trying to register our photography equipment and then flying 10 hours in an old plane filled with less-than-considerate travelers (and that was just the first day), I can say that I repeated “Love the one in front of you…love the one in front of you…love the one in front of you…” in my head and aloud more times than I could count.
Though I didn’t keep my cool throughout the entire trip (I only lost it once…briefly…), repeating this line was therapeutic and almost meditative, serving as a good reminder of at least one way that I can lean on my faith in my day-to-day life. It helped me to quell those negative thoughts and not respond impulsively. Granted, there’s more to “loving the one in front of you” than simply biting your tongue, but you have to start somewhere.
For me, repeating this mantra to myself is an open invitation for the Holy Spirit to guide me, a call to think before I act and a step in the direction of living and breathing with more compassion.
And, it’s a constant reminder that we are all deserving of God’s love, even when we aren’t being our most lovable selves.