Today I am encouraged and challenged by the Romans 12:10 “love one another with brotherly affection out do one another in showing honor.” Sometimes how this verse plays out my life looks different then I think it would in past generations because of the way our lives are structured. We don’t live in a time with a common square in the middle of our town we don’t live in huts all next to each other; we live in homes that are far apart and not close to one another. We don’t draw water from a common well and we don’t hang laundry in backyards that have no fences. It’s easy as a mom to find ourselves going a few days without interacting with any other adults besides our husbands and our children. How we love one another now sometimes looks different than it did in the past.
As believers and the part of a local church body it is important for us to find ways to live in community and love one another. Sometimes I think that the biggest obstacle to loving one another is ourselves. With Pinterest and magazines and articles about how to be a wife and mom and how to do it all, it’s really easy to not let people help you; which is an isolating and inhibits community. I find that I have to fight my flesh and not believe the lie that receiving help is a weakness, or implying that you can’t do it. Receiving help and being blessed by other people is evidence that you are part of something greater than yourself and invested in a community. If someone is offering to be a joy and a blessing to your heart it’s important to let them do what the Holy Spirit put it on their heart to encourage you and strengthen you in that way. It is kind to let others practice the spiritual service which we are called to of loving one another. Sometimes the gift can be spontaneous and other times it is planned but either way let the tenor of your heart be one that the blessing of other people resonates on your heart as I joy and a blessing. We need to be actively finding a way to strengthen other women and other families; serving those around us especially those that are at our churches. This can look like dropping off coffee, sending a note, bringing a meal, sending a text message or just being together in our homes. Some of my best memories and friendships have been built over loads of laundry, cleaning up rooms and doing chores with friends. As a mom of three young kids, I don’t have a lot of extra time to go and have coffee and walk around downtown and shop like I used to. Recently I was encouraged by an older mom that oftentimes women build our relationships around ministry and serving with and for each other. I think that our generation would be well served to have hearts that are looking to encourage other moms that are in the trenches.
All those in parenting can find ways to gird up our loins and take on these tasks together. If you have a sick kid and you are making chicken soup for your family knowing that there’s a virus going around to 10 other families at the church, it isn’t very hard to make just a little bit extra freeze it to keep it on hand to drop it by when you hear that someone just caught the same cold.
Service to one another is a muscle that needs to be worked and strengthened and so even before you actively participate in the service begin focusing your mind and training your mind to think towards that and have a bent of blessing others. So how do you start? By practicing. When you look around Bible Study or work and see that someone is there, know that there’s probably a reason maybe reach out and think about why they might not be there. It is not nosey to ask people what they are doing and checking in with them briefly letting them know that you missed them and NOTICED that they weren’t there. If you see a great deal on shoes somewhere you could probably think of some moms that might like to know that the shoes are a great price and they might benefit from going to get some. If you are going to Costco know that there’s other moms probably need to go to Costco too! When you’re making dinner other moms are making dinner too! Questions to ask yourself to get into and practice this habit might be
1. Think about how could I live in community with the ladies that I will be spending eternity with?
2. What am I doing right now in my day? Who else do I know that is doing something similar at this time of day? Making lunch? fun! Laundry? Exciting! commuting? great! going to bed? wonderful! Make a list of 10 ways you could bless them and communicate to them that you care and spur them on to love the Lord more and cherish the gospel. To get your list started, think about what would bless you in that moment.
3. Am I able to take on just a little bit more right now? Do I have room for a few more things in my cart? Do I have space for an extra car seat? Will I be home all day? Do I have way too much food? Do I have a random gift card sitting around that might really encourage someone? Can I use my little bit of “extra” to help someone else, with not too much extra effort to what I am already doing?
4. Where am I going today? Do my errands go by where one of my friends live? Could I drop something off and text her to let her know you left something for her? Could I just text her and say, “I’m driving by your house! Thinking and praying for you today!”
5. What is in the store that could bless or encourage someone. Could I drop off a cute pumpkin I saw on sale at Trader Joe’s for a dollar and deliver some seasonal decor to someones house? If you got a great deal on something could you share with someone?
6. Do you have a friend that doesn’t have laundry in their apartment? Invite them over! Likewise, if you have laundry or something you are trying to get done, ask someone to join you, or ask when you can come over and help them with a task that they could use encouragement. Are you really good at something? If you are a great organizer or a fantastic bathroom cleaner, or love packing kitchens (mom 🙂 ) make that known and do it! Do something you already love doing, just for someone else , easy! Remember… Your house doesn’t have to be spotless to have people over, you live there! It’s OK if it looks like it.
7. Take notes and try to remember dates and “favorites” of people. Just so you know what their coffee order is or favorite sandwich is so that if you are going to bring lunch at the drop of a hat you know what to bring or have some ideas.
8. Pray for each other. Right here right now. Stop and pray for people. Touch their shoulder and pray out loud. Even if you are “bad at praying” or don’t know what to say do it. Even if it is 3 sentences. Just start. its not for you anyway, the Spirit will intercede and your friend will be blessed.
9. Do I need help? Who can I ask to help me or join me in the project?
Likewise receiving blessing and receiving help is a muscle needs to be stretched too. If someone asked you or told you that they are going to Costco and they want to know if you need something, say yes even if you don’t need anything…find something. There are plenty of things that are at Costco that are less than $10 you could probably have in your house, dried mangoes something. Receive the blessing that they are offering to you. Just smile and say thank you! You don’t have to reciprocate, just receive it. If you say no and keep saying no at some point they will stop asking and it will be easy for you one day to wake up tempted to feel all alone. Just start saying yes to people and make it work. Building a community has to start somewhere. As sisters in Christ they way we love one another should be something drastically different than the world. We should be well practiced at living with and loving those around us. How do you love those around you?