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The Lovelessness of Fear

I love being home. But man America is weird. Let me tell you what. First of all, it’s a tad more humid here in Texas than it is in Switzerland. Remind yourself of that before you decide to go running after being overseas and feel like vomiting within the first five minutes. The food is big, too. An average bowl of pasta at Olive Garden could feed a family of four just so you’re aware. On a more serious note though, we’re a weirdly terrified people.

About four days after I got home, I was driving from Batesville to Conway. I stopped to get gas and (because I forget normal things and apparently am a peasant now) I didn’t have a GPS with me or data on my phone so I decided to ask for directions just to make sure I was still going the right way.

I was standing next to my car filling up when the driver of the car at the pump behind me walked out of the gas station. He had to be 6’4″, if not more, and probably akin to John Cena as far as body mass goes. The teeth that weren’t missing were gold and the crotch of his pants hit his kneecaps.

He was driving a pick up truck that had to be older than both of us combined and, if I had to guess, I don’t think he had taken a shower that week.

“Are you from Texas?” He raised his voice and nodded towards my license plate.

“Yeah! Texarkana.”

“What’re you doing all the way out here?”

“I’m visiting my little brother over at UCA. Actually, do you know which exit I need to take next to get there?” I left my car, door open, nozzle in, keys on the hood, and walked straight up to this man, leaned on his car, and talked directions for a good five minutes.

“I can give you my phone number if you really get lost and need some help,” he offered.

“Oh no, that’s fine. I’ve got my brother’s if it gets that bad. Thank you so much though!”

“You’re welcome. Be careful driving.”

I turned back to my car and saw an elderly couple in a shiny, new Camry staring at me through their closed, and probably locked, windows with their jaws on the floorboard.

Only then did I notice what I’d just done, something I never would have done before I left home; I trusted the people around me that I didn’t know. I left my car free to be grabbed because who would be rude enough to do something like that? I engaged this ex-con looking man in conversation because why not? He could volunteer at the soup kitchen for all I know.

I told my dad about this and told him how the guy had a kid, probably sixteen or seventeen, sitting in the passenger’s seat of his truck that had looked so confused the whole time we talked and I couldn’t figure out why.

Dad explained, “They’re probably not used to being talked to.”

That hit me like a ton of bricks.

It leads me to the sermon I listened to yesterday morning. My mom talked about how unbelievably scared we are as a nation of practically everything. When talking about the solution to this (which is agape love, if you’re curious) she said these words “We need to enforce the fearlessness of love against the lovelessness of fear.”

One more of the oh so random things that being out of the country taught me: of course you should be vigilant and aware of your surroundings but you shouldn’t let fear invade you so deeply that you avoid people, things, experiences.

There’s so little violence or crime in the town I lived in for three months that it was never an issue for me to leave my things sitting for a moment out in the open or talk to anyone and everyone wherever I went. In a way, I chose to love this man that probably doesn’t get engaged with random strangers that often. I chose to believe that he was a kind person with good intentions and that as long as I was polite to him, he would be polite to me. And guess what…he was.

I know that I could be countered with the fact that there is truly a lot more crime here than there, but I refuse to believe that there is some massive difference between the Swiss people or the intentions of the Swiss people and Americans.

We like to think we’re so free of judgment but, in most cases, we’re just lying to ourselves. You can say that the reason you passed over this man was because you were concerned about your safety or he seemed sketchy or blah blah blah. Ultimately, you were lacking love. You lacked the most basic form of love, or charity; the love that serves regardless of circumstances.

This form of love takes almost zero work. It requires you to be kind to everyone you meet and to treat them all the same. Holy cow, revolutionary, right?! Wrong.

Just treat them all the same.

Love them all the same.

See them all the same.

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