If there's ever an answer...it's more love

Leave it to my wonderful Dixie Chicks to provide the title to this one.
The older I get and the more I learn, the more I'm convinced that the answer to ALL of the world's problems is love. Biblical, non-condemning, non-judgmental love. Somebody wise once said, "Love covers a multitude of sins." Another wise person said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Seriously, if we could grasp that concept, even a little, and release our self-serving and selfish defenses, I think the world would be rocked.
It's a day-by-day thing to practice and learn. It doesn't come naturally to us at all. But it does work. Rewind to my eighth grade year....my first introduction to love against the circumstances.
I played the flute in middle school band. Being a fiercely competitive person, I was always practicing and vying for "first chair." I often got to sit in that seat. The three years of middle school, I attended three different schools. Our district was working some things out, and we moved a few miles closer to town. So in eighth grade, I found myself at a completely new school, though a lot of the faces there were kids I knew from elementary school.
We had band auditions for chair placement...I made first chair! I was so excited!! Until I hit the band room. The flute who had been first chair the year before was suddenly second, and was NOT excited to see me. I'll call her Jennifer. Jennifer and I had been friends in elementary school. But clearly, I had inadvertently stepped on some toes. Jennifer and all her friends from seventh grade were glaring at me, like I had stolen a boyfriend. It's not as if I planned it. You just audition, and the band director places you. About half the flutes were on Jennifer's "side." They would literally just GLARE at me, in the cafeteria, in the halls, in PE. I felt kind of ganged up on. They didn't really even KNOW me. Just decided I was the enemy. As was the case, I went to my mom for some whining. My mom wasn't a fan of whining. She wisely told me that Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. I was to proceed with that in mind. I would speak to Jennifer each day, be nice to her and her mean girls posse, and be kind in everything I said in front of them and behind their backs. I could do nothing but show love. They didn't necessarily deserve love, and they surely weren't giving ME any. But that didn't change the reaction that Jesus required. It took months, and it was pretty un-fun being the girl who received mean notes, laughing when I walked in the room, untrue rumors, etc. But LOVE WON! I guess it just wasn't fun to continue to taunt someone whose reaction was continually kind. I'm not saying I didn't want to haul off and hit her (though she was about a foot taller than I was)...but I held out. And we traded around the first, second, and third chair throughout the year. But, somewhere during that school year, the glares stopped, the snickering stopped. Oddly enough, there was another girl that year that I didn't even KNOW who kept sending me messages through other people that if she and I were ever alone, she was going to beat the crap out of me. But by the end of the year, she came around too. Perhaps I was an annoying person. I don't know. What 14 year old girl isn't annoying to some degree?
But Jesus totally helped me survive that year. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Our only response can be love.

As I continue to have epic battles of will with my nearly-two-year-old, I realize that that's what he needs to learn now. LOVE. We are nice and sweet because we want to show love to those around us. Because we aren't the only person on the planet. Because compassion and regard for others is a better tool for dissolving arguments and tension than any show of force or will.

I control my reaction. I cannot control how you treat me, what you say about me, and even how you might use me. I certainly can't contain or really control Shepard's fits. But I can control the reaction I give you and him. Parenting has really been challenging this in my heart. Shepard will learn of the world and its ways what I teach him. I want to teach him the gentle response, the Godly response. That though we might not deserve love sometimes, God is forever pouring it out. Discipline and boundaries are part of that love, but the Spirit is my guide: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) My prayer is that our family will be Spirit-led and bear much fruit. And if there's ever an answer, it's more love.

1 comment:

chereemoore said...

amen. great post Shelley.