“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:3-5
There’s this guy in my class. Just a regular dude. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to him when the class first started. It took almost two weeks for me to learn his name….. and we have to sign our names during roll call!
We started talking because of a group activity. Every time I would tell someone where I was from, they’d tell me that he was from the same place. The odds of that aren’t great. A class of 13 people at a community college 4 hours from home; home being a city with approximately 70,000 people. We met against all odds.
We started practicing for class together, which afforded us the opportunity to delve deeper into each other’s lives. Now, if you know me, you know that I am affiliated with some pretty impressive people. My friends are activists, teachers, lawyers, doctors, professors, engineers. With that friendship track record, it is difficult to impress me. Impress me he did. And my respect for him grows each day.
He told me of a troubled past, one that had him on the path of destruction. He decided he didn’t want that life, but not before being in a predicament where he may be incarcerated. I was in disbelief and grieved concurrently. There was just no way this well-spoken, kind, and uplifting young man could be in trouble. I felt (and still feel) helpless.
Truthfully, I may have ulterior motives for not wanting him to be locked away. I’m not saying that the aforementioned attributes are not true; they are. I think though that I want him to be around for more personal reasons. You see, I am naturally an encourager. If you tell me you can’t do something, you will get a lecture on how you can and why you should. You walk away feeling like you own the planet (as you should!). Maybe because I am this person, others rarely offer me encouragement. One may feel that I am self-encouraging. I am for the most part, but I get stuck just like everyone else. Even the most confident person needs to hear that someone believes in who she is trying to be and what she’s trying to do.
It’s difficult to put into words what this person has meant to me, even after this short period of friendship. Some feelings don’t have words to describe them. It’s like this- you know how you have your ride-or-die friends? These people have been with you through it all so they know what you’re capable of. They speak confidently about your ability and effectiveness as a human being. That’s what your squad does, no?
Now, take that same level of confidence and put it into someone who barely knows you. They believe in you the way your squad does, but they don’t have any tangible proof of your ability or effectiveness. Essentially, this person speaks in faith that you are a person worth knowing.
This young man of whom I speak has his own life, his own troubles. He has no reason to spend energy on my issues or on building a relationship with me. Yet he does almost on a daily basis. Even when it is obvious that he isn’t functioning at his highest capacity, he still manages to speak life into me (and make me laugh while doing it). There is something extremely divine about this type of person-the one who refuses to wallow in self-pity, but takes whatever opportunity he has to make a positive impact on those around him. It is our nature to think of our best interest above all else. It is the embodiment of the Divine to be able to consistently consider others above oneself.
I guess the closest word to what I’m feeling is grateful. I’m grateful to know this man. Looking back, if my life had gone the way I planned we would have never met. I’d already be in some remote part of Africa. God knew. He knew I would need to see this particular representation of His love, His patience, His gentleness, His steadfastness, His humility. He knew I needed to see it in the form of a man as well. I don’t know too many men these days with this type of heart. I’m not saying they don’t exist. I’m saying I don’t know them. He is truly a man of God. I know that term has become tightly associated with church clergy, but they are not synonymous. In this regard, he is a man that displays the characteristics of God constantly. He manages to be godly without being religious. Man what a concept.
So, today I celebrate this man. He knows who he is. No need for names. He’s a low key type of dude. I just want him to know that someone sees his life, and the path he had chosen is not in vain. In the short time I’ve known him, he has planted seeds of success in my life, and for this I am thankful. *fist bump*