When I was a little boy, around 3 or 4, my parents would send me to a babysitter. She was an older woman whose children had obviously grown older and had children of their own. From what I can remember, she was incredibly nice and made me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and let me watch Care Bears and never gave me any reason to dislike her. Only one other thought of her keeps her alive and breathing in my memory, and it’s how I would kick and scream whenever my parents left me with her.
I am confused when I try to remember those times because of how awkwardly those memories fit together. I had no reason to dislike her company and certainly have no explanation for my actions when being left with her. I went in search of why I would have thrown such a God-awful fit just because my parents closed her front door.
After approximately one half hour of grueling research (relying on top-notch information provided by Google and Wikipedia), my search led me to object permanence, or the awareness that objects do, in fact, exist when you can no longer see them. As a child, having not fully developed object permanence, I became terrified that when my parents walked out the door in the morning to go to work, they were gone forever.
In many ways, I still have not fully developed my idea of object permanence. I see good friends, acquaintances from work and the occasional high school classmate–but where are my thoughts for those people when they aren’t around? They are out of sight and out of mind.
Several weeks ago, I answered a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. Her name was Susie, and had dialed the wrong number. Susie and I, however, talked for nearly two hours. Conversation swayed from small talk to the love she still has for her ex-husband who she left for abusing her. They are still dating.
Two weeks before I talked with Susie, I met an older gentleman in a local coffee shop by the name of Gene, a photographer and die-hard Royals fan. Over an hour later, Gene and I were asked to leave because the employees needed to lock the doors.
There’s such an interconnectedness that God has created all around us that I don’t often see because I’m too caught up in ideas that I think are worth my time. Ideas like politics, carbon footprints, war, sports teams, work and school dominate my thoughts because I am passionate about them. Until I met Susie and Gene, though, I had hardly any passion for the people that shared with me the world I’m dying to change.
Jesus equated love for His father with love for our brothers and sisters. But how can I love someone who isn’t here to love?
Caring thoughts for others is the best way to inactively love our brothers and sisters. Think about them. Wonder if they are well. Picture them doing something they love. Wish that they are happy. In these ways, they are being prayed for.
There hasn’t yet been a day that I haven’t thought of Susie or Gene. I haven’t seen or spoken to either of them since we had our heart-to-heart, although Susie made me promise that I would let her cook me dinner. Gene is probably shooting photos of soon-to-be-married couples and can’t keep his mind off the Royals’ spring training. Susie is probably trying to keep her Kindergarten class in line, preoccupied by thoughts of what to cook for that boyfriend/husband of hers for dinner. But they exist. They are out of sight, but always on my mind.
These two strangers taught me how to more effectively love another human being. And for them, I am thankful.