The Capacity to Care

I teared up a little on the way to the dentist. I adore my dentist and his staff. They are professional and kind – the best of the best. I trust them. That’s why I have no problem going all the way to my hometown to get my teeth cleaned. However, even with their expert care and ‘Jesus’ music playing softly in the background, I get incredibly anxious about dental procedures. I just don’t like them. So recently, when I cracked a tooth, I quickly scheduled an appointment nearly two hours away from my apartment to seek treatment from Dr. Hensley and his team.

I cried the whole way there, insisting that my father figure go with me. I cried on the way home. I canceled dinner plans that evening. My tooth, of course, was going to be okay. But it was still a devastating experience despite the excellent care that I received. When folks asked how it was, I told them the truth: “Traumatic.” Perhaps that is exaggerated and unreasonable, but it is my truth and I stand by it firmly.

Sometimes what we go through may not be “that bad” to others. But when it’s our family that is hurting, our careers that are at risk, our health – our teeth – or our happiness that are in jeopardy, it is very real. A beautiful new friend demonstrated this to me last week. The one person in this world who owes me absolutely nothing was the one person I knew I could count on. I called her sobbing. She listened and she shared herself with me. She helped me begin to heal and she has earned my absolute loyalty.

The same beautiful girl who helped me through something that was emotionally overwhelming shared the same concern yet again when she checked on me after my dentist appointment. Sure, one incident was more difficult than the other. But she showed the same concern in both moments. Her concern wasn’t in direct proportion to the circumstances; it was in direct proportion to me.

When someone calls you because they have been disappointed with a professional or personal situation or when they have a cracked tooth, don’t let your concern lessen or increase based on the circumstance. Let it be always a reflection of the love you have for that person. Sure, it may seem over the top to offer to drive someone two hours to a dentist appointment for something simple. But it is a beautiful thing for which I am grateful.

There’s nothing worse than being terrified or hurt and have someone say, “It’s not that big of a deal. You’ll be okay.” If someone is concerned enough to confide their feelings, it is a BIG deal to them. So please be gracious. You are changing someone’s life.

The point I’m making is that there are people in the world who care too much and love too much. Let’s be those people. Let’s make big deals out of birthdays, holidays and work anniversaries. Let’s cry with each other. Let’s laugh with each other. Let’s celebrate with each other. Let’s try too hard. Let’s leave puns on post-it notes for coworkers. Let’s offer to drive folks to dental appointments. Let’s go out of our way.

We change the world with every opportunity we are given to care for and serve others. In every moment we are perpetuating a cycle, be it one of grace or one of difficulty, so please let’s teach the world to be kind.

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