Each day it becomes increasingly more apparent how universally and desperately we each thirst for love. Although our methods of seeking out and satisfying this desire may look different on an individual level, every person’s greatest hunt is for love and acceptance. Whether it is in the affirmations from a coworker or boss, a loving touch from a friend or family member, or the wagging tail and recognition from a pet, we all thrive on small indications that we are wanted, appreciated, and cared for.
After spending weeks at home feeling flooded with this kind of love and affirmation, I returned to life here in Beijing wondering how it could compare to the familiarity and comfort of “home” in America. Days passed and I longed for my mother’s embrace, my niece and nephews warm smiles when they greeted me in the morning, and a friend’s voice reminding me how much I had been missed. It wasn’t until I sat in the back of the van returning from the baby home next to my dear Chinese friend and almost-Catholic (Praise Him!), that I let my head rest on her shoulder and felt peace wash over my body and heart. It was in that moment that I became ever-more convinced that small consolations, or small representations of love, are what get us through our days and bring joy to our lives. It is in the smile of a neighbor who passes you in the stairwell, it is in the eyes of a friend that gets your subtle joke at the dinner table, and it is in the thank you for the extra, unnecessary chore that you completed for another.
We need not look for the huge gestures of appreciation, the sonnet describing in detail the fire of their love, a party celebrating our arrival, or the constant flood of emails listing our every good trait. We should be aware of the small moments that punctuate our day and refill our weary hearts with the joy needed to persevere. It is in that recognition that we will also understand our duty; our duty to love others in this same way. Kiss your spouse goodbye, thank the stranger for holding the door, write a thank you note or email for any and all gifts, offer help to those you may see struggling, and remind all that their presence in your life truly means something. Although our final satiation for the desire for love comes only in eternal life with Christ, it is in these small kindnesses that we will change attitudes, change our own hearts, and change the world.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you may love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35