“Love your neighbor, y’all!” These signs have been popping up all over our neighborhood and across the city. They are part of Room in the Inn's campaign to encourage simple acts of kindness. This effort coincides with the city of Nashville's campaign called “The Big Payback", a yearly call to rally around community nonprofits. It’s mostly known as a time when nonprofits raise funds that help them continue their work. This year, Room in the Inn wanted to shift the focus from themselves, back once more to this city.
The campaign encouraged our community to perform simple acts of kindness, volunteer their time, and to give back financially. These acts of kindness weren’t always giving tangible gifts, but focused on connecting with people around us. Room in the Inn urged people to listen to others and not try to “fix” them, to pray for our homeless community, to make eye contact, and to talk to strangers. These things sometimes go against our natural instinct, but all point us towards what we are shown by
Christ. Jesus spent his days with those who were seen as the outsiders, the ones who didn’t fit, yet we sometimes cringe at or fear those whom we deem different. It isn’t comfortable or always easy to talk to someone that we have labeled as an outsider in our own minds, but once we decide that we are all human, things change. A simple smile and a hello can make the world feel like it is spinning a little slower. It can make us feel human again. It makes us feel connected. We all have desires to know and be known, but our fear keeps us from engaging with each other and getting to this place.
My work with CSM has only strengthened my desire to engage with my community, my neighbors, and strangers around me. I long not only to have my needs met by being known, but I long to know others so that in turn they understand that satisfaction. And in this place of understanding, I pray that we are connecting to more than just that moment, but also to the One who created us with these desires in the first place. So, say hello to the people around you, and don’t forget to love your neighbor, y’all!