Let’s get back to finding value in others.
There’s a hole in my heart.
It’s not a medical condition though, it’s completely spiritual.
I discovered it one day out on a mountain trail running. It had been yet another frustrating week in my full-time job. Trying to logically explain to somebody why you can’t just receive something into inventory because you have to reconcile an invoice began an argument that resulted in me once again being labeled as intolerant of others.
The particular argument isn’t what caused me to examine my heart on this run though.
What caused me to take a look deep inside was what these constant conversations do to my thought process and the way I look at life.
I realized as I looked back on yet another situation at work that I was refusing to see the value in the other person and that their inability to see my brilliant logic was doing nothing but frustrating me and then triggering this person’s inner flight system because I push too hard to prove how brilliant I am in my logical thinking.
Heart Examination: Looking Deep Within
As I examined my heart on this particular run, I discovered that I was attempting to fill the hole in my heart with pride and blindness to what other people may be feeling when I am trying to logically explain something that perhaps they really don’t care about knowing.
I wish I could say that what I’m trying to fill the hole in my heart with is only pride and blindness to other people. Unfortunately, I seem to be better at filling the hole in my heart with stuff that doesn’t matter in life rather than spending the time to fill that hole with what will matter for eternity.
I got into this vein of thought about the value of others while reading one of my favorite authors on Medium. Nicole Akers wrote a piece titled Day 2: Threat of School Shooting in Progress. I responded and thanked her for not going political in her article but concentrating on the emotions of the people, especially parents involved in yet another school shooting.
I have been thinking for a long time that all these mass shootings and horrific incidences have less to do with the availability of guns, and a whole lot more to do with how we value other people and life. I believe we are now in a valueless society, one where we value our wants and desires way more than we value other people around us.
When I lived in Central Asia at the beginning of the War on Terror, I remember remarking to a friend that dropping bombs and bullets on Muslim communities wasn’t the answer to stopping people from strapping on an explosive vest. I believed then and believed even more now that the answer has more to do with how we value ourselves and others than anything else we could do to fill the hole in our hearts.
My answer in Central Asia was to spend time working with young men helping them to start businesses so they would value life and be less susceptible to the desire to strap on an explosive vest or pick up an automatic weapon and start shooting. As I invested time in helping people start and sustain businesses, two amazing things happened that I believe are bound to happen in our culture today if we are willing to stop assigning labels and instead start assigning value to ourselves and others.
You may be wondering what this has to do with the hole in my heart. Long ago, a friend of mine told me something. This guy was a tough, biker dude who had gone from being a drunk, druggie ex-con to one of the gentlest people I have ever been around. Ray told me something like this, “everybody has a hole in their heart. The problem is that they try to fill it with drugs, booze, women, food, church activity, volunteerism and every other thing they can imagine. What we’re all missing is that this hole in our heart can only be filled with one thing and that is Jesus Christ.”
To some, this article was sounding okay up until that last sentence because that last sentence is considered offensive and intolerant today. We are trying so hard to fill the hole in our heart with everything but Jesus that we now think it is more normal to take a Twitter swipe at somebody we disagree with than to find the value in what they are saying. We are a society that holds no value for other people, because we value ourselves so little.
Learning to Value Others
I’m not going to tiptoe around this, so here goes. I love Jesus with everything within me and when I do this well, I am also able to love you with everything inside of me. Jesus made this of utmost importance. One of the reasons I wrote I Don’t Want to be a Christian was because of the question a religious scholar asked Jesus many years ago.
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Matthew 22:36 (The Passion Translation)
Religion looks for laws and checklists and these are the things we also use to fill the hole in our hearts. It is also why I don’t like the label Christian any longer.
I love Jesus because he didn’t answer with rules or lists. Jesus answered the religious scholar, “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being and with every thought that is within you. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is like it in importance: You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.” Matthew 22:37–38 (The Passion Translation)
I am unable to value you without first committing every passion of my heart, all the energy within me and every thought within me to Jesus. Were I to try to value you without that first, I throw the entire order of a value filled life out the door with useless activity that may change something temporarily but in most cases are no better than downing a bunch of booze or taking some drugs to chase away the demons in my mind.
By doing the first step first and committing myself to a life of love for the only One who was willing to give His life for me, I am then able to see my value as a son or daughter of the Creator. From the value I see in myself, I am thus able to value you with the same passion, energy and thought that create the desire to see the best in you.
If we truly want to fill the hole in our heart, I believe that we must first come to an awakening of where our value comes from first. When we fill our heart with the only thing that is shaped to fill this Jesus shaped hole in our heart, I believe we will once again place value on others and maybe we won’t need a bunch of rule writers to try and fill the void with yet another useless something that won’t fill the hole in our hearts.
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