Put A Little Love In Your Heart – (Jackie DeShannon)
Other people inspire me…they always have. It’s easy for me to get chills from just watching people go out of their own way to help others. Whether its my family, friends, coworkers, teachers, coaches, authority figures, or the lady at Walgreens, it literally can be anybody. But it’s not the big things that they do, and it never has been. It’s always been the little things, the little decisions that they make that impact me the most.
My first year in a public school system was my freshman year at Tupelo High School in Tupelo, MS. I was going from a class of about 20 to a class of 500 people. I still have this vivid memory of a day that changed my life forever. I remember this one student I would see all the time who happened to be physically handicapped. He had trouble walking straight, his legs and arms didn’t work the way that most do, his face didn’t quite look like most faces, he didn’t seem to have a group of friends, and was certainly picked on from time to time. There was one day in particular though that I will never forget…He was walking across the courtyard trying to carry his stack of books, notebooks, homework, whatever, it was a lot and to the amount it wouldn’t be an easy task for anyone…The scene plays out in my mind in slow motion as I am writing about this. For whatever reason that day I remember watching him walk through the courtyard and I don’t remember if it was because he was handicapped and I was not used to seeing people like that, but I was just watching him walk. He makes it halfway across the busy courtyard in between classes, I watch him slowly try and squeeze between all the groups that are waiting on their next class and just as he tries to get through his foot kind of gets stuck on the curb somehow and he just face plants…and I mean he falls hard and fast. Everybody from all group genres that you can imagine are outside and it was like watching a scene out of a movie to me. His papers, his glasses, his books fly everywhere…I remember his face turned so red that he just stared at the ground sweating, not wanting to get up, embarrassed, and afraid. I just wanted to look away but I couldn’t …then comes the screaming, mocking, and laughing that instantly erupts so loud it made me wonder where I was and if I was even safe standing there…he landed what seemed like two feet from where I was standing and before I knew it, before I could react in any way, one of the more popular football players, the guy who for whatever cliche reason I thought would join in on the killing just immediately, without hesitation, drops his books on the ground and starts helping him. Slowly, one by one, he picks up his books…one by one he picks up his papers…and through all of the chaos he helps him put them back in his folders and then slowly helps him back to his feet. He puts his scratched glasses back on his face, gives him a pat on the back, says something to him, and then walks off…
I have never forgotten that day…and over time after making so many bad choices in my past I find myself asking “am I making the right decisions?” Are my decisions going to help me, hurt me, help others, hurt others? Is what I am doing or what I am about to do going to have an impact in a good way or bad way? Most of the time, and more so in my past I was asking in regards to myself and over the years I have hurt some really good people, sadly more than I can even remember…forgiveness is something I ask for quite a bit. Sometimes I truly didn’t mean to, sometimes I let other things take control of my decisions, and sometimes I like to hope I wasn’t being selfish but it sure seems that way. It makes me sick to think back on my past but I just can’t take things back. As you know we are all human, and we hear that all the time but it is so true, we really aren’t as perfect as we think. So if we aren’t perfect, then how do we make the right decisions?
“Put A Little Love In Your Heart” was Jackie DeShannon’s highest-charting hit, reaching #4 on the Hot 100 in August 1969. When asked about the song and the lyrics, “Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart,” Jackie said, “I owe some of that to my mom, because she was always saying that people should put a little love in their heart when things are not so good. I’d like to say it was very difficult, but it was one of those songs you wait a lifetime to write.”
So how can we show a little love? Through faith and love I have learned that people can be strong again and you can learn how to not only make the right decisions but how to experience success from those decisions. From the simple action of choosing to love while gaining nothing for yourself…Through my mistakes, the help of other people, and my faith, I have learned new ways to succeed in life. Some people make decisions to chase money, some recognition, a job title, fame, relationships, social status, and not all of that is bad. I chased them all for a really long time but it was bad for me because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I have found that none of what I was chasing was permanent, but changing someone’s life for the better without expecting anything in return, making decisions to help other people, and by showing love to each other can truly create a lasting change that can spread like wildfire. How did that high school football player make that decision? Can we do this on a daily basis? Is it even possible? I say yes…I have learned that the two ways for myself to make a right decision breaks down to: 1.) Love God and 2.) Love others. It’s as simple as that…I have found that if I truly do that, if I go into a situation, a question, or a circumstance with a willing, serving, and loving attitude to put others before myself then right decisions start being made..right results start to happen. I stop asking that question and I watch it turn into an action of love and a powerful reaction of life changing success. I challenge you to just try it out for these next ten days…
I think about that football player from my freshman year of high school…man he made the right decision…that’s a hero, and he was just in high school…He’ll never know how I felt that day but he is truly successful to me and he made a life changing impact on me and that is how I define SUCCESS. It should be in a dictionary.
When I moved back to Mississippi last year I was definitely nervous…I was still hurting. I was scared that I had failed a lot of people that I had loved and left behind. I also felt I had failed the people that I was coming home to…I was uncertain of what was going to happen next, and terrified of the life I could so easily fall back into. In fact I almost did several times…but a lot of real friends and genuine mentors in Oxford saw me start to stumble again, and with grace they reached out their hand, showed me love, shared with me some impactful truths, and most importantly invested their time in me. Relationships are so important. There were a lot of one-on-ones, a lot of encouragement, prayer, and taking time to show me a new way to have success. I felt like I was being coached for the game of life but this time I was being prepared to truly win the game. I hope that Ten Days In Love can help others who have been in my situation and shared the same struggles. Maybe thats why I wanted to start this journey…because people are going to let you down sometimes (that’s just a part of life) and I will most certainly let you down…but I encourage you to not give up. How do we respond to personal failure or when someone lets us down? Do we react with hate? Do we judge? What do we do when we see somebody struggle? Do we throw people aside that wrong us and just forget about them? I know I have, I did it for years…but can we change? Can we show people something different? Can we show love and learn how to forgive again? It’s the little things…these little decisions we make that can go a long, long way. Even if its simply saying hello to the person across from you at the gas pump, holding the door for the next person walking in to a restaurant, letting someone out in traffic, or helping somebody financially even when you know you can’t really afford it.
(Believe it or not a simple smile can change someone’s life.)
I think in everything we do we need to be thankful for what we have in this temporary environment we live in…because that’s the truth of our situation at the end of the day. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us so try to remember the little things. Love God and love others…and I can’t promise that you or I will always make these right decisions, but I can promise you I have seen what truly happens when right decisions are made = LOVE. Nothing is impossible…
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Watch, listen, and share what happens when you decide to live the next 10 days in love.
(Feature post photo by Green-Fly Media)
(Listen below to my favorite version from The Isley Brothers album Brother, Brother, Brother)