Sometimes finding our best role to change the world feels overwhelming. But a friend told me that the next step I gave–love small; love big–while speaking last week really helped him feel like he could move past this feeling of overwhelm and move forward. Considering, I thought maybe I should share this simple secret to changing the world here for you, too.
I will point out, it was a little unfair. Here I was, supposed to share my story of being a world changer with my church to inspire them to make a difference and engage in the world around them. Yet, while listening to the opening speaker, it hit me that this guy literally gave an organ away (Yes, an organ from the body. A kidney to be exact). How was I supposed to follow that? For world-changing inspiration? Pretty sure that guy took it already and I could just go on home.
I am not saying donating a kidney is any small thing, but now that I think about it, this kidney-donating-guy is really exemplifies my first point, “love small.”
More Than Surface-Loving Your Neighbor
Love small begins with the basics, often called “loving your neighbor.” But it doesn’t end there.
Yes, it is the essentials of caring for those around you and near you in proximity. You don’t just walk by people and ignore them in their need. You see a guy who needs a sandwich? Bring him a sandwich. Your friend had a miscarriage? Bring her chocolate cake and binge watch Lord of the Rings with her (or whatever floats her boat).
Most of us get this type of love: Love those within your periphery.
But when I exhort you to check your life, whether you are really loving small or not, I am referring to loving your neighbor . . . deeper.
The challenge of loving small isn’t about spreading yourself more thin, but rather, loving those near you with greater depth.
It is a target, zooming in, until you love a person so deeply you change their world.
Loving small is all about taking the next step. For example, in addition to your usual smiles and small talk with the barista, your next step might mean to asking her about her life and really care about the answer. Or in the case of the first speaker this week, it might be not just praying for your aunt to get a kidney, it might actually be giving Auntie a kidney. From my life, right now it is taking in an outsider and adopting them into the family (see Our New Addition: When Social Justice Becomes Family).
Want to change the world? I challenge you to love small.
Love those around you . . . deeper.
If loving small is loving those in your periphery deeper, how do you love big then?
This type of love is different. This type of love focused on a bigger scale. Sometimes I call this “macro love,” like I talk about here Why Should We Seek Justice? Big love means caring about the people at the bottom enough to try to change the systems that keep them there.
If a Sex Trafficked Girl Comes To Your Door…
Once, a girl came to my friend’s little house outside Minnesota, asking them to call the police because she just escaped from some bad guy. Later, they realized she was actually very likely a sex trafficking victim, and a rare one at that–as many don’t realize they need to escape or have a means to.
Imagining ourselves in the situation my friend was in can help us understand love big. Sometimes I add on to her story with hypotheticals when I am speaking to people about what love big, or seeking justice means:
-What if this girl came to your home, and you called the police and the police said they didn’t care?
-What if you then tried to find a shelter to bring her to, but couldn’t find any?
-Let’s say you let her sleep at your house . . . and then she said there were fifteen more girls who were routinely being raped where she came from that could escape too–but it was safe for them only right now?
-What if you called a lawyer, asking them to represent her against her trafficker and they said they didn’t do pro-bono work?
-What if you were so angered the no one would help, you called the news to spread the story and the news outlets said they didn’t cover stories like that?
If no one but you existed to help, would you step-up to the plate?
Or as another example, recently, I read The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah with my mommy book club in my neighborhood (of which I am a proud member–you can’t beat literature, wine, chocolate, and adult conversation). We went back and forth about the main characters in this book, and whether we would be brave enough to respond to the Holocaust on our own doorsteps–and it made us question whether we could live this right now in our own lives. Can we love big, even if it is because we forced to by our circumstances?
Big Love–Not a New Idea
The point is, when we imagine love big as love small, or when we see these grand social issues sitting on our doorstep, they take a different light. As long as they are removed from us, we can claim they are someone else’s problem, or we can hope someone else is responding and bringing change to the gaps in social justice.
Love big is pursuing change that brings good to people even when it isn’t on our doorstep.
In most religions, there is a hope hinged on something better, a better way, a world of peace or good. I am familiar with what it is called in the Bible, where it known as the “way of righteousness,” an unimaginable right because there is no wrong to taint it. The ancient words translate to mean a justice and goodness permeating all relationships between each other, and then between people and God–God’s kingdom come.
Bring this, stepping into this–this is what it means to love big.
Change the World: Small and Big
Although loving small and loving big are no easy task, putting these words around it can simplify such huge concepts. We don’t have to have degrees in justice work, volunteer ten hours a week, or even know our own neighbors’ names to make a difference.
We just need to challenge ourselves to love small and love big in at least one area of our lives in this season to be the world changers we were born to be.
How are you loving small? Loving big?
You can use this as a formula to forever gauge and challenge yourself to make a difference in the world.