Every day feels so overwhelming. To start, there’s just life.

Work and a toddler and allergies and money and family and stubbed toes and pressure and a toddler. (Ya, I said toddler twice.) And to top it off, we’re in a border crisis. And have you seen the state of our government? The fight for women’s reproductive rights or gun control? The next Presidential race? The list goes on, ya?  

It is so easy in times like this to be self-centered. To just focus on what you need to get through the day. To turn your brain off to coast through it and then to gel when it’s done. But if we do that—if we continue to turn inward without any reflection or care for the neighbors around us, we’ll never make the world better. That realization is just one small step in the right direction. The next step is the hardest.  

Bob Goff, the author of Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, offers some wisdom on the topic. LOVE. True, real, giving, selfless love is for everybody you come across, and even those you don’t.

And he really means EVERYBODY. The people who make you uncomfortable because they aren’t like you, they don’t look like you and they don’t love like you. Your coworker that rubs you the wrong way. Your Aunt you can’t talk to at Thanksgiving. The man on the street corner begging for change. And if you love in this way in the midst of your life and its hardships, there is promise that the world will change for the better. Can you surrender to that? 

I’ll let Bob take it from here… 

“Simply put, we can stop waiting for a plan and just go love everybody. There’s no school to learn how to love your neighbor, just the house next door. No one expects us to love them flawlessly, but we can love them fearlessly, furiously, and unreasonably

We’re not supposed to love only our neighbors. If our love isn’t going to work for the people who live close to us, then it’s probably not going to work for the rest of the world. And [no one can really say] who our neighbors are. [It helps to not] start making lists of those we don’t need to love

Each of us is surrounded every day by our neighbors. They’re ahead of us, behind us, on each side of us. They’re every place we go. They’re sacking groceries and attending city council meetings. They’re holding cardboard signs on street corners and raking leaves next door. They play high school football and deliver the mail. They’re heroes and hookers and pastors and pilots. They live on streets and design our bridges. They go to seminaries and live in prisons. They govern us and they bother us. They’re everywhere we look. It’s the one thing we all have in common: we’re all somebody’s neighbor, and they’re ours. There’s a whole world of neighbors. We call it earth, but [it’s] just a really big neighborhood

What often keeps us from loving our neighbors is fear of what will happen if we do. Frankly, what scares me more is thinking about what will happen if we don’t. Being fearless isn’t something we can decide to be in a moment, but fear can be overcome with time and the right help.” 

Bob Goff, Everybody Always

This energizes me. The anxiety is gone with this simple sentiment. Now it really is just the fear that’s left behind, and I think I can conquer that. I’ve been praying on this daily. Every instance in my life that I come across someone that irks me or makes me uncomfortable or mad, I think about the greater purpose. What would happen if I just loved them? And it’s not easy. Or perfect. I’ve missed plenty of opportunities to just love. But I believe the practice will net a better result than if I just give up. 

I’d love to hear if reading Bob’s words changes your perspective—please feel free to share an event or instance that brought choosing LOVE to mind. <3 Jess, @JBierman87

Small aside: the original book is religious in nature. I am a Christian, but I believe wholeheartedly the sentiment is universal. Out of respect for your beliefs, I wanted to remove mentions of Jesus and God from the reading. I just didn’t want anyone to be surprised if they picked up the book and saw Jesus all over the place. :-)