I remember being scrawny and insecure as a junior high student. But my 8th grade year, it was the worst. Every day my mom would drive me to school in our family mini van and I would nervously fidget in my seat as we pulled into the drop off lane. But even in my insecurities, I always knew how loved I was by my family and those closest to me.
“Lauren, remember to love the unlovely today,” my mom would always say to me as I slipped my backpack on over my shoulders and crawled out of the van. If I had heard it once I had heard it a thousand times. But her reminder was always gentle, always the same.
Love the unlovely.
It wasn’t just those words that made the impact on my life, it was all of the words and conversations before it that did. My parents both took the time to instill faith-centered values into me and my brother’s life; values that intentionally sought out the hearts of others.
Sit with someone who is alone at lunch.
Invite someone who looks lonely in your class into your group.
Ask someone how their day is.
Everyone deserves to know and feel loved.
Notice when people look lonely or sad, and then ask if they are OK.
Remind people they are important.
Don’t let the way people look or smell affect the way you treat them.
Don’t ignore when people are sad.
And always, always do the right thing.
Love the unlovely.
I had class with boy named *Jeremy* for years. We sat next to each other in one particular class. Jeremy had always been on the quiet side, some people might have even called him “different.’ Unlovely. But for the last couple of weeks, and in particular one Friday afternoon, he just seemed sad. Notice when people look sad, I remembered my mom saying. Don’t ignore when people are sad, I heard my dad’s voice echo in my mind.
So I asked him.
“Hey Jeremy, what’s up? You seem sad today. Is everything OK?”
“Yeah, I guess. I’m fine.”
“Well OK. If you ever are sad I hope you know you can talk to me. We’re friends, and I’m glad we are,” Remind people they are important, I thought to myself.
“Yeah, I know,” he said.
We kept on with class, the bell rang and I said good-bye to Jeremy. If only I had known…..
The weekend came and went, and Monday morning finally rolled around. I walked into class and took my seat next to Jeremy. “Hey, how was your weekend? You’re looking like you feel a little happier today!” He smiled as I slapped him on the back.
“Yeah, I am,” he said. What he said next took my breath away.
“I was going to kill myself this weekend,” he said matter of factly.
I dropped my bag and stared at him. “What? Wait, what? Why would you do something like that?”
“I didn’t think anybody cared about me anymore. I didn’t think that anyone has ever really cared. But you noticed I was sad on Friday. You always notice. You reminded me that I have a friend. And I guess that’s enough for now. Thanks.”
At that point the teacher started talking. Jeremy took out his pencil and began writing, and I continued to sit there and just stare at him, tears running down my face. How could he not know how loved he is? I thought to myself. How could nobody else notice?
I think we can all agree that every human life has purpose and meaning. People matter. Their souls are worth investing in. But let’s look at our lives, friends… Are we actually investing in people? Are we so consumed in our own lives and our own feelings that we neglect to look to the interests of others? What keeps us from intentionally seeking out the well being of our fellow man and loving them the way they need to be loved?
Is it our time? Is it our pride? Is it that we feel uncomfortable? Does it make us nervous? Is it because they are hard to love? Or let’s be honest…
Do we think we are too good to love the unlovely?
No one is is below being loved and no one is above giving it. When we miss the silent cries of the people around us, we miss the opportunity to do what we were created to do. To love. To love big and to love well. And we must love people, friends, we must.
Let us remind ourselves today, and everyday, that people are worth pursuing. People are worth loving. Let us teach our children to seek people out because they are precious in His sight. And let us always, always remember to do the right thing, and love the unlovely.
Philippians 2:1-4 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mine. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
*Jeremy’s* name has been changed to protect his identity.