May 18, 2010

the courage to care

"being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, i think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." mother teresa

the following is a real conversation that took place this past semester between me and one of my girl friends at college:
my friend: "charissa, i know something is wrong with my relationship!"
me: "oh no! why do you say that?"
my friend: "i can see it in our text messages."
me: "uh oh! is he being mean to you?"
my friend: "well, no."
me: "did he tell you he needs to take a break?"
my friend: "well, no."
me: "then what is it?"
my friend: "well, you see, there's no more...punctuation!"

a ridiculous conversation, right? a typical girl for ya, right? reading into things, analyzing everything, assuming the worst. but what made this girl go from getting "hey!!!" (exclamations) to "hey" (no punctuation)? where have the periods, question marks, exclamations...where has the semicolon gone! ok, you're right, the semicolon was never there to begin with. but is there really nothing to read into, or is that text message sending a different message that's loud and clear?

whether we are conscious of it or not, we naturally express to people how we feel about them, the majority of the time without using a single word. we tend to put people in their places. to let them know exactly how we feel, or don't feel, about them, sometimes in only a matter of minutes. and sometimes using the most subtle of ways.

in our attempt to maintain control, the upper hand, our high position...we strive to treat certain people a certain way. it's that annoying guy who has got unrequited love for you that you wish would become unrecited love, and so you send a message. it's that person you were close with in the past who mistreated you, burned you, hurt you, left you, and no matter how many times he or she has apologized you feel any sign of forgiveness is a sign of weakness, so you send a message. it's that person who is socially inappropriate and who was never taught the correct behavior so you decide to teach him. but is giving someone what he deserves by not giving him the time of day really a gift?

why do we give people: indifference. apathy. the cold shoulder. an unpunctuated text. a side note. an afterthought. plan b. when all we want ourselves is: difference. empathy. a warm hold. punctuation. the title. the first thought. exhibit a.

since when have the majority of our conversations reverted to the form of texts? and why do we deem some people unworthy of our punctuation? when did it become ok for a guy to ask a girl on a date through facebook chat? where is our face-to-face interaction? when did our coffee dates become phone dates? how many facebook friends are truly friends? and when did the number of wall posts we get on our birthdays become such a significant factor in our lives?

it takes courage to break down the barriers of technology that have distorted our friendships. it takes courage to make time for people and to spend it in person, face to face. it takes courage to call instead of text and to let people know how important they are by you wanting to be in their physical presences.

it takes courage to care. to show your true feelings. to say no, you're not really fine. to say you still care for someone even if it's not mutual. to let another person know that you think about him. to let another person know you pray for her. to tell another person he or she has captivated your heart and soul.

it takes courage to love. to love unconditionally. to love someone who may or may not be willing to love in return. to love someone who doesn't deserve it. who has burned you in the past or broken your trust. who everyone else tells you to forget, to reject, to shun. it takes courage to punctuate. yes, it does. to go the extra mile. to be the bigger person. to smile. to listen. to share yourself with another person. to be vulnerable takes courage.

so, when you're about to send that unpunctuated text message, are you thinking about the message you're really sending? is putting that person in her place really worth it, and will it really make you feel better about yourself? let us be honest with each other, but let us do it in a spirit of love. because isn't that all we really want in this life: to love and to be loved in return?

"be strong and courageous. do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go." joshua 1:9

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