Monday, February 26, 2018

Show Your Love to Thy Neighbor

Post by: Elliott Holm

I haven’t written a blog entry for a while now, and a lot has changed! Kyla and I became parents to our beautiful daughter, Ella, and she has brought so much to our lives. We absolutely adore being with her, holding her, watching her smile, and never missing a moment

Through all the excitements of parenting and life, though, it’s very easy to forget to also be there for the people you love. I was reminded of this when I returned to work, and began teaching my students. We are knee-deep right now in a two year-long unit on how to be successful and productive adults, so the students will hopefully be equipped for many more things that will come their way.

It was during this week, I started a new chapter with my “Adulting” group, called Friends and Neighbors, with the hopes that it will teach the kids how to make healthy friends when they’re adults, as well as how to be there for their neighbors. I taught them about so many things I was so excited to talk about; deciding what size of friend group was right for their personalities, choosing healthy places to find new friends, being nice to new people who just started working with you, and much more. I truly felt that we were having some great conversations, and the students were very engaged; I had them right where I wanted them!

That’s when I got this sign that this lesson needed to be a little bit more. It happened to be on Valentine’s Day, and I teach each chapter in numbered “Tips.” I got to my final Tip for the day, which was Tip number 14, on February 14th. This tip was: “Tell the people you love why you love them.” I hadn’t realized when I made this presentation, that I stopped here, at this tip, on Valentine’s Day, and it happened to be about love. But there was this quote I found from an author I frequently use in these lessons to end the lesson with: “I try, once a year, to write a letter to each of my closest friends and let them know why they mean so much to me, and why I am so lucky to have them in my life. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and everyone wants to feel loved. There is no reason to withhold this, especially from people who are worthy of it.” I stopped in my tracks for that day’s lesson. I knew this had to be bigger than me just telling students this author’s quote. I told the students we had 20 minutes left in class, let’s do this exact thing the author does and write to someone we love. The students were a bit hesitant at first, but quickly thought of someone who was important to their lives, and began scrawling handwritten notes on torn-out lined paper as quickly as they could. Some of them even wrote 3 or 4 letters. I was in a whirlwind of kids asking if they could run to another class to give it to a friend, or a teacher, or if I could mail it for them, to someone important (Which I did, I promise!).

But I always tell my students I’ve got to “put my money where my mouth is” and be willing to do any of the tasks I assign to them. I reached out to a friend I actually talk to very regularly, and let him know these things, how great of a friend he is, and how lucky I am to have him. He took a while to reply, but eventually told me he had a very difficult day at work, and Valentine’s Day usually reminds him of loneliness. He told me how much that simple message, that took me about 30 seconds to write, meant to him, and how it completely turned his day around and turned it into something special. Now, I’m not trying to make a case for Valentine’s Day; I’m well aware that many people are averse to it, I mean, I do teach High School, after all! What I do want to make a case for, though, is exactly what the author states. If you love someone in your life, or even just appreciate them, because they bring something special, let them know. Even if it seems trivial, or you think they won’t care, or even if they react like they don’t, they really do care. Your gestures to reach out to someone could mean the world to them, can give them the strength to carry on, and can put the biggest smile on their face. Whatever it is you choose to do, or who you choose to be there for, just always try to put aside all the busy-ness of life, and remind the people you care for why they’re important, and be the light in their world, even if just for a day.

Elliott has been attending BUMC since 2012 with his wife, Kyla. Since attending, he has worked with technology for services, as well as camera work on Easter and Christmas, while Kyla sings. He is a high school Gifted and Talented teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, and is in his 6th year of teaching. He lives in Arvada with his wife, new baby daughter and two dogs.

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