In love lies power.
As human beings we desire love and once it is within our grasp we often clench it so tightly we can be suffocating to people.
Let's be honest, who doesn't want to love or be loved? Love allows control, healing, emotion, and many other unknown feelings one may not have comprehended until learning to love. It can be shown through something as simple as a hug, which I often took for granted because I viewed it as a commonality all of us received daily and understood.
I find the lust for love and the desire for acceptance and care more prominent in today's world.
When I first heard the saying there is power in love it I brushed it off and only saw the surface because it seemed irrelevant to me.
I have been blessed with a loving family, loving friends, and even loving strangers throughout my entire life so I thought why would I need to use the power in love?
Well, I was wrong.
Pahokee, Fla. is one of the poorest cities in America this year, making $33,000 average household incomes. Not only is the median income that low, but also the percentage between the poverty line is 33 percent. The work hours, levels of stress and uncomfortable living situations can create a lot of tension in the community.
I had the opportunity to meet and begin to invest in children in the middle of Pahokee, whom I learned are subjected to unhealthy sleeping situations, abusive lifestyles and early exposure to a large amount of hurt and loss.
Not only did these children have a lack of money and the necessities such as deodorant, notebooks for school, or even the simple things I enjoyed as a kid like a soccer ball, but they lacked proper love from people who they looked up to too have a genuine care for them.
I understand the draw to foreign missions because there is so much need all over the world especially in third world countries, but while we are in America we miss out on the need that could be right in our backyard.
The first day I was in Pahokee it seemed as if I had known these children my whole life. They called me "Miss Annie," and hung from every limb of my body till I would fall to the ground because they all just wanted a hug from me.
A simple hug—something I never thought I would be fought over for and something I never thought of as a serious thing. This little symbol of affection made these children light up and brought so much joy into their lives that was lacking so severely before.
They drew me pictures of us holding hands that all were lined with the words "I love you." They so desperately wanted to feel cared for that they loved me from day one, no hidden agendas or reservations, just love.
After experiencing this culture shock in my own back yard I realized "why not tell everyone?" I believe there can be hope for Pahokee and every hurting city by spreading awareness to all communities.
There is a need everywhere you go, you need only ask around. So I challenge myself, and you, to give more and want less. Love others fully, deeply and unconditionally. To reach out, consistently towards the goal of impacting those closest to home, because wherever we are and whatever we have we can always make the difference with effort, but most importantly to use our power to positively impact the world.
It all starts with a hug, a symbol of the most powerful gift one can give: love.