One of the biggest influences in the way I now try to relate to people, has been the Christ-like example of my friend Paul. Although the cynical may see his perpetual goodness as a tad too "Ned Flanders", anyone with "eyes to see" will know they are in the presence of a living saint (although that doesn't mean I don't pray for him and his family every day).
A devout family man (five kids at last count), he actually studied to become a priest, but as is often the case, God had other plans. Working several jobs to support his growing brood, one with special needs, he still will take time to talk to anyone he meets, and ends most conversations with "let's pray for each other". I've been with him where we prayed for someone in a grocery store, as well as an IKEA checkout line, and the look on those faces is one I have imagined similar to people who's lives were touched by the apostles. My friend Josh, not knowing my relation to Paul, told me about this awesome Christian guy he met on the Metro one day, and who offered to pray for him and his dad, with Josh commenting "and he genuinely meant it !?!"
Genuine, is the best world I can think of for Paul.
The incredible love he shows for strangers, is nothing compared to that which he pours out onto his family, as well as us blessed to be called his friends. Every child is attended to, with not even a smidge' of favoritism, even though his oldest (still a pre-teen) is already talking of becoming a priest.
When I was anticipating marriage last year, and would talk of baby names, we had easily picked" Richard Paul" for the first boy (my friend Richard is my Midwestern version of Paul). Sadly, Paul's wife is my former almost fiance's best friend, so I distanced myself from them after the breakup, as to keep her support system of friends intact. Love really is about sacrifice, and doesn't, or shouldn't, end with the "changing" of the relationship....but I digress (always wanted to say that (O: )
Taking Paul's example of openness towards everyone, I daily try to do little things, with "listening more than talking" being a big one. Another way I find I emulate him is with checkout people, as when they, according to script, ask me "How are you?", I now respond "not bad, How are you doing?". They usually are pleasantly taken back by this, and sometimes will even tell me honestly about their day. Yesterday in Walmart, the checkout woman broke out in tears, telling me about how her car broke down, and while it was on the side of the road was hit by another car and totalled. No one else was in line, and I just let her talk, then I asked if I could pray for her, and she smiled, a tear in her eye "would you please?"
Would I please?, funny how often we are the ones blessed when we try to be the blessing. God is amazing, and I am thankful for the example of His Son, and for all those, like my dear friend Paul, who inspire me to "love as I have been loved"
So all of you, could you please pray for my buddy Paul and His family, and that my new friend Loraine will get a car, and that this silly monkster will continue to try to be His "hands and feet"