What do you want to be known for?
Interestingly enough, I’ve been thinking about this question (or one very like it) since before we got this blog post prompt in Innovation Diploma, so I think it’s about time I write out my answer.
I think there are defining moments in everyone’s life, and I don’t think we realize what they are when we have them, but years later we can’t stop thinking about them. Sometimes it’s what you’ve done to someone, and sometimes it’s what someone said to you, and sometimes it’s just an experience, but they happen to all of us.
I think one of the defining moments in my life happened when I was about four years old. I was at my grandparents’ house over some break – probably summer – and my grandfather was praying with me and my sister before bed. He said, “God, please help us to love everyone in the world,” and I remember asking, “Everyone? Even the criminals and people in jail?” and he replied, “Yes, even the people in jail. Because everyone is deserving of love.” I doubt he knows how much of an impact that made on my life, and I don’t know if even I realized how important that moment was until recently.
One of my favorite lines from The Bible is, “And these three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” The idea that through everything – loss of faith, loss of hope, loss of everything – love is still there is so important to me. That everyone is deserving of love, no matter how they’ve acted of treated others.
I had a friend once that I saw as a sister and when she would make me laugh, I would say, “I love you.” To be honest, I said it far more times than just those times, but the time that stands out to me, we were walking to lunch and I was laughing and said, “I love you,” and she asked, “How can you say that so easily?” I think I shrugged and gave some dismissive reply, but it stuck with me for a while. I think part of the reason I said it was because of that night years before when I grandfather said everyone is deserving of love, but I think part of it is also that I knew she needed to hear it. I don’t know if she believed me – in fact, I’m pretty sure she didn’t – but why should that mean she doesn’t get to be loved with every once someone can give her? I would argue that she needs it even more because she doesn’t believe it.
I’ve often heard, “You can’t love others until you love yourself,” and I’ve never believed it. I think you can love others when you don’t love yourself. I think you can love others more than you love yourself. There are plenty of people out there who don’t love themselves but do love plenty of other people. There are plenty of people out there who would never think to take time off for themselves but would do anything for someone else at the drop of a hat. And it’s not about being insecure or alone or anything else that we say is “wrong” with someone when they’re not happy or don’t love themselves. It’s about being recognizing that other people have bad days or insecurities or might just need a friend, and wanting to make sure they feel loved. Like they never feel the way about themselves that you feel about yourself.
So when you ask what I want to be known for, I’m going to reply that I want to be known for loving others. I want to be known for loving others so selflessly and completely that they never doubt that someone wants them in her life. I want to love others more than I love myself. Not because I’m insecure or hurting, but because they deserve to be loved by someone because they have their own insecurities. I want to be excited about the things someone else gets excited about. I want to be the shoulder someone can cry on. I want to be there for anyone who needs me to be there.
I want to be known for love.