Y’all. It worked.
Getting through this week was harder than I thought. When the windchill is -50 and threatens you with nearly instant frostbite, you don’t leave your house with your baby. I also am fairly certain our baby girl was sick with a virus we didn’t detect until both my husband and I felt our tonsils light on fire. It was so painful last night I didn’t want to speak. I responded to my husband in grunts and realized… oh THAT’s why our baby girl has been so grumpy these last few days. Poor little sweet one.
And there, in the midst of my sickly cabin fever, Jussie Smollett’s attack reminded me of fears I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. So, I wasn’t loving this week.
And then I posted my blog on Wednesday and this happened:
People said the. Most. Wonderful. Things.
I said in my last post that when something bad happens in the news, something that’s far away, a great place to start is to reach out to people you think might be affect by that news and tell them that you love them, without condition, without doubt. Tell them you love them. That alone is way more powerful than most people think.
And then, of course, I should have known this would happen… People told me they love me.
Within minutes of me sharing my post, people started sending me messages.
“Love you! Always! Across time and distance!” my friend Christine said on Instagram. Christine and I first became friends in 5th grade. And still… after all these years she holds me up. Still in this moment of fear she lets me know I have a friend for life.
“YOU are loved,” said the older sister of my babyhood bestie. We found each other on social media after we’d already grown up. Our family’s that used to live in the same town are now spread across the country. I never expected that her kind words would be such an encouragement to me so many years later.
‘I love YOU,” said a friend who is many things to me including my 4am party buddy, my hitchhiking companion, and a bridesmaid at my wedding. She sent her a message while she’s away for work in Morocco. There, half a planet away, she sent a paper airplane of love, and in those few words she carried all the memories of our friendship – the late night dance parties, Peace Corps projects, and cartwheels on the lawn in front of Congress. I felt it all in her words.
And so many, many more words from people I LOVE. I honestly felt so much less alone, and me… the guy who wrote the post… I actually felt surprised by how much stronger you made me feel.
When I posted on Wednesday, I was thinking about how so many people aren’t sure what to do when they hear about something terrible like the homophobic, racist attack on Jussie Smollett. I wrote about what I wish someone had done for me when I heard news about Matthew Shepard over twenty years ago. I wanted to offer something to do.
When the community around me, when YOU, you wonderful people out there, sent messages to me minutes after I posted, tears immediately started running down my face.
That threw me. I was standing at the door of our nursery, Charlie changing our baby’s diaper, and I had to lean up on the doorframe I was so taken aback. I hadn’t known how much my own heart needed love in that moment. And it was changing me.
Why am I writing all this… I just want to say — IT WORKED. It totally worked, y’all! You saw someone (me) who was deeply affected by horrible news, and you let that person (me, again) know that they are loved unconditionally. And my heart got stronger.
Thank you. There are so many people who need the love you have to offer. I’m so grateful you sent some my way. And next time horrible news comes along, we know what to do.