“No you did NOT just throw your trash on the ground five feet from that garbage can!” I said to myself, walking toward the door of an establishment and watching a teen in front of me. After seeing someone do something so blatantly disrespectful and apathetic, I couldn’t help but wonder why some people just don’t feel that they have a responsibility or need to play a part in keeping an orderly cohesiveness in our world.
When I really began to think about it, one thing came to mind. As a whole, most of us don’t necessarily feel connected to the people around us – at all. I’m not even sure most of us really know our own neighbors.
Community (the way it once existed) is foreign to us these days. Think about it – we don’t hold barn raisings when a couple gets married.We’re lucky if we clear our schedules to make it to the ceremony. Okay, so maybe we’ll hop on a meal train when someone has a baby and cook a lasagna (maybe), but how many of us go clean that new momma’s house and weed her landscaping and do her laundry so she can bond with her newborn or perhaps get some sleep? How many of us really “do life” with other families — eat together regularly, bear each other’s burdens, celebrate the milestones and endure the daily grind?
It makes me feel sad.
So, I started to think about the people around me. The ones closest to me. I can remember a time when I hadn’t been accustomed to someone laying down THEIR agenda and being willing to help ME without a long sigh, or displaying signs of inconvenience, or a sudden mood change, or flat out being irritated by the inconvenience. As a matter of fact, that is what I had experienced most of my life. It felt awkward, like I was inappropriately taking from the person by asking for or accepting help. It’s what Jenni and I call the feeling of “green slime.” It feels yucky.
Then my life was turned on its side. I met Jenni Stahlmann. In her world, “Of course you help – we’re a team!” Having her say that it was a “no brainer” to come to my aid when I had a scheduling issue with one of my kids, or needed a ride somewhere, or just flat out needed help was new to me. And let me tell ya, I did not know how to graciously accept it. Wow! Isn’t that sad? I needed help; she offered, and I would question whether to accept her help or not. Duh!
I’ve grown a lot in this area since the beginning of our friendship (and so have my kids). Now her family is an extension of mine and vice versa. So, now TEAM is a word you will hear often in the Hagaman and Stahlmann homes. It’s is a word that has revolutionized our thinking and the way we do life.
The result of this “team” mentality is that our kids now feel it’s their duty to help others (if they are able) and also have the freedom to ask others for help (something they struggled with before). This has translated into a sense of community responsibility. They know they are a piece of a bigger picture, and they need to do their part. But, it started with me. My behavior had to change first. More is caught than taught.
We all want our kids to have a heart for the community, to care about keeping our communal space clean, to care about drug addiction and human trafficking and homelessness in our own community and to brainstorm ways to solve problems where they live. They do marketing for rehab centers and if they are only conscientious of their personal space, activities and friendship circles.
So, start having conversation with your kiddos about the importance of helping other people. Have them jump in and lend a hand when the Johnson’s need help packing for their move. Send your boy over to mow Mr. Smith’s lawn when he has that surgery next week, and have your girl clean Mrs. Allen’s home after she has her baby.
We all need each other. Teach them while they’re young to have a team mentality, and it will become a part of who they are as adults.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Do we?
Challenge yourself this week. Go out of your way for someone. Challenge your kids to do the same. Remember, more is caught than taught.
Drop us a line and let us know what God has laid on your heart to do. And be sure to join us on Saturday at 10:00AM as we chat with you live from Dakin Dairy’s Festival For Life.