I think one of the biggest things I have observed and learned about people is that we all have the desire to be wanted. Social science, psychology, even medical science shows us time and time again that we need to have people in our lies. As humans we crave relationship, but when we are without it, we struggle. We begin to feel outcast, our mental health declines, and our well-being starts to fade. We want to be wanted, but the opposite of being wanted is rejected, and that’s a dangerous place to be.
I’m starting this off because I think this is an important concept to understand, it’s one that I struggle with, but I was reminded of the power that relationship has. Moving down to Florida was a big change for my dear Danielle and I; we knew about one person, but other than that, we were completely alone. Being an adult has challenges, making friends is about a million times harder and awkward. In school and as a kid, you just see people and say, “we’re friends now,” and it happens. As an adult, you have work, contrasting schedules, differing stages of life, and a myriad of complications that hinder building relationships. It takes more intentional steps to build relationships.
I think I’ve found the solution. It’s not my original idea, I have simply stumbled upon it in two different ways; one is biblical and one is personal. We wall want to be wanted, so it’s time to create a seat at the table.
Be like Jesus, live with love.
Christians tend to get stuck in the details, when the truth is, we are simply called to love God and love people. Everything else falls into place when we do that. When it comes to feeling wanted, we have to start doing what Jesus did. We have to be proactive and love others. It’s easy to stay feeling rejected, that no one wants us so what’s even the point of trying to make relationships. The truth is, Jesus was one of the most rejected people, but that never stopped him from reaching out to the rejected. There’s a story that captures this idea in John 4. Context; Jews and Samaritans hated each other during this time. Jesus of course knew this, yet chose to initiate a conversation with a Samaritan woman. It was just the two of them, Jesus wasn’t there to boost his clout, he saw a woman who was dealing with some junk and just started a conversation. Jesus is able to discern that she has some baggage with past relationships, and does not call her out or put her down, he simply loves her and shows her freedom.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
We can learn some vital things from this. The first is that we just need to start a conversation. It doesn’t have to be crazy. The second is that we need to get rid of ulterior motives. Love someone just because, not because of what you can get from it. And finally, in relationship, we can help one another become free.
Another example, which I am adding as another point of how to live with love comes from Luke 19. A similar action happens as our first story, but Jesus invites himself to the house of Zacchaeus. What we see from this is that we all need to understand that the context of people’s lives are different from our own. That means that sometimes we have to enter a context that isn’t our own. This is also known as empathy.
We need to understand that being wanted is a feeling that everyone has, so begin by inviting others to have a seat at the table.
Loving others is easy, give it freely.
This past week, I experienced true, deep love. I recently was given the quarterly award by my leadership team at Galaxy’s Edge. It felt really nice, seeing as this time last year I was without a job and feeling really rejected. I then also was surprised by my dear Danielle and some of my friends from work, and was treated to a night out at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue, a dinner show that is an absolute riot. I sat at the table, stuffed to the brim next to my wife and surrounded by people that love me and I love them. You see, inviting someone to the table isn’t hard. You don’t have to be extravagant, you just have to love.
I felt like the luckiest guy in the world; I was wanted. I had a seat at the table. But we can’t be selfish, we have to help others feel that same love. You are wanted, so help others feel that. Have a seat at the table prepared for people. What might this look like? Coffee in the afternoon with someone you don’t know fully. A couch seat and a board game ready to go. Drinks after a crazy day at work with people you see every day. Taking people out to get stuffed and watch a show. Randomly text encouragement to someone. Be there to listen when someone is sharing their struggles and triumphs. Love isn’t hard, but it is intentional. Give it away freely. Let others know they are wanted by having a seat at the table ready for them.
One of the biggest things I’m learning during this season is how to love others in a real way. In the past I’ve seen a lot of fake love; people trying to gain influence or look like they’re a saint, but this isn’t the way. Jesus loved when it wasn’t socially acceptable. He loved when no one was watching. He loved people when they lived in a different context. And he loved when others rejected him. Be like that. People don’t have to earn our love, we are to give it even if we get nothing in return. It’s time to shift the culture and remind everyone they are wanted and have a seat at the table.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can tweet memes at him on Twitter @joshua_thomas__ or follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__