When you open your heart, when you humble yourself, you will find just how warm the world is, despite all the suffering and hardship that exist.
Being the oldest in my family, I thought I was strong enough to take care of everyone from my younger sisters to my parents. I was proud of being independent, and believed that I could do everything on my own. With hard work, I believed that I could achieve the success I wanted.
Others sensed my independent spirit, and, seeing all that I had seemingly accomplished, wanted their kids to do the same. I found these expectations quite unfair, and consequently thought that I was wiser than they.
By high school I thought I was virtually taking care of everyone, and I pitied myself for having to manage so much. But I have realized that this was a kind of pride. It didn’t help that I was constantly surrounded by those younger than myself who often had not yet developed the skills or knowledge I had. I was so proud of my language skills, my past experiences and my knowledge that I considered myself the higher authority on many subjects. I couldn’t stand other people working in the kitchen with me because they would interfere with my cooking methods. I would pick at people’s essays just because I believed my way of writing was better, even if at certain points the writing was grammatically correct. I worked hard but made sure to keep the glory for myself, so that in my “innocent” care for others I would have the pleasure of receiving all the credit.
Perhaps when I was 11 or 14 I once yearned for someone to care for me, someone to look up to. But those I admired were always out of my social circles, causing frustration with myself. And at the slightest criticism I would be deeply hurt, wondering why I wasn’t good enough. Like the author of Ecclesiastes, I began to find everything meaningless. There was no point in all my scurrying around, for no matter how much I did, I would never be able to achieve perfection. I would never speak well enough; I would never look good enough — forever immature. As for my career, all the books I read, all the articles I wrote — for what purpose was it all? Most likely no one really appreciated it; no one really cared about me. I was struggling to gain the admiration of others purely by what I did. I thought I had to do it on my own.
But I have realized that I can call nothing my own: It is all the grace of God. This year I have met so many who, for reasons I cannot understand, sincerely care for me. When out of the blue they reach out to me, take the time to listen to me, and encourage me in little ways, I realize that that love is what I have wanted all along.
This Thanksgiving, I want to thank them for showing me what it means to love and be loved, as close friends.
I have found that there is no merit to always being strong, not crying and not caring about myself. To be loved means that you must first respect yourself, and love yourself as who you are. To love others means to simply and purely care for them as people without overanalyzing the social implications. Love needs no reason, for it is irrational. Love is crazy enough that God sent his son to die on the cross for our sins.
Take the time to love others and humbly embrace the blessings that come from it, and you will find the world a more joyful place.
Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from thatwithhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows thatmany times you yourself have cursed others.
All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?