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Father, forgive them…even the bullies

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

I have spent a number of weeks both at home and in my “day job,” trying to teach compassion and kindness. Encouraging children to not point out differences as if they are an abomination. But learning to love and accept the differences we all have.

Many times I have failed. Thinking the bigger bully. The one with the loudest voice wins. At times I have been deeply discouraged. Feeling as if my effort to teach kindness and love is falling on deaf ears.

I have not been immune to bullies myself. Yes even adults are bullied. Even kindness warriors are treated unkindly. And in our home we have experienced what happens when a friendship goes sour, and a young girl becomes a target.

So despite the hatred, we seek to infuse our world with kindness. A love for all. To demonstrate and model these in the hopes that it will create a more kind, and less cruel world.

Love and kindness are both the way of Jesus.

But, so is prayer for those who are anything but kind.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27

But Jesus took the call to prayer even further. He didn’t just pray for those who were outcasts, or deemed unacceptable by society; he lived among them. And he was criticized and questioned each time he stood up or dwelled among the least of these.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw him eating with the sinners, they asked the disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

And it is what we should do. Call the sinners. Spend time healing the sick. Many times we focus on the victims, as we should. But what if we did something different…and prayed for that bully? Or the person we don’t like? The person who is mean and rude to us day after day?

Jesus was clear when he called us to minister to the “least of these” in Matthew 25:40. He was clear that we are to feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Welcome the stranger. Stand up for the oppressed. Visit the prisoner. Love the unloveable.

Even the most unloveable bully.

This kind of love may make you an outcast. It may scare some folks who don’t embrace different. Praying for the bully is radically different. But we are called to be all these things. Because we are called to be like Jesus, and call the sinners.

So, next time you find yourself lamenting about the harsh words of another person. The actions of a bully. Or the cruel and hateful world. Speak the following in prayer instead:

Lord, I pray that you give them a new heart and put a new spirit in them. Lord remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Remember to pray for the least of these. Encourage the least of these. Build up that bully. Sit amongst those who are not like you. Who may make you cringe, or hurt you. Because you may be the only one who is praying for them. The only one who is praying for their heart to be changed.

And because it’s what Jesus would have done: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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A little love up in here

Surely, Lord, You are in this place. Surely, Lord, You are in this place.

These were the words written in my daily devotional this morning. These were the words I had to repeatedly say to myself over and over just to get through my day today. To get through some spaces today.

Surely, Lord, you are up in here!

Because, I didn’t really believe it. Because all I had seen, heard, witnessed, even had spewed at me was cruelty. Hate. I had been hurt. Heartbroken. And I was having a hard time seeing anything redeeming in some of those faces.

I was also wearing it. Which means that my facial muscles just don’t do “fake face.” If I am mad, sad, happy. My face let’s you know. And, I had been walking around in a funk for a number of days.

It’s why I could instantly recognize it in the kid in a sea of kids during the transition between recess and last period. That “Please don’t look at me, or I’ll just cry” look.

It may have also been his black plastic rimmed glasses, and unruly curly hair; much like my own kid’s that made him stand out to me in that moment. The fact that earlier that day, I had been wondering if these same group of kids would be so unkind to my wee, little quirky boy?

Then I saw one…similar…standing in front of me. Trying not to cry.

While everyone else just walked right by him. While everyone else just blew him off. While no one else noticed his sadness. Or saw it. And failed to stop and say anything kind.

Hurt people hurt people. Yeh, yeh. I get it. Read the book. Check. Do the job to stop that cycle.

Hate that is given, that is often returned to others is just that-hateful.

Thing is, we don’t have to be hateful. I didn’t walk a life paved with roses. It has been rough. Pieces of my childhood were painful. Filled with grief and loss. But, I didn’t use it as an excuse to hurt others. I was a tough cookie at times, sure…however, I never spread hate. I was never unkind because cruelty was handed to me. No, I took my pain and used it as a tool to undo harm, by showing love to others.

This is how you break the cycle. Refusing to spread hate with hate. You battle the hate you feel you have been given. The crappy hand you feel you have been dealt, not by hurting others, but with love. You become a warrior. Of love. Of peace. Of kindness.

Surely, Lord, You are in this place. Genesis 28:16

He was. In me. I was called to show someone the Lord today.

Today. I could be that warrior of kindness.

Be, here. In this place. That had been a source of hurt to this woman, what I would want for my child. The one who came to mind as I watched this one cry in front of me. The words I would want my own sweet, quirky, funny, but tiny and unruly headed little boy to hear.

“I am sorry they hurt you. No one should get away with saying hurtful things. It’s not OK. You are smart. You are worthy. You are wonderful. You are awesome.”

It’s never cool to hurt. It’s never cool to take your pain and use it as an excuse to inflict it on others. I could have easily walked by, mumbled an “I feel ya,” and kept going, but even in my pain I chose to stop and show that kindness, love and peace does live up in here. It’s the only thing that drowns out the hateful noise. And you have the choice whether you receive it, and then in turn give it.

My prayer is this: Stop when someone is crying. Those tears are tears of pain from a heart that is full of love and kindness, and so desires to hear how valued they are.

Show them that love, goodness, and kindness lives here. It could truly save a hurting soul. And, it only takes a hot minute.

The same hot minute it took to read a devotional dated December 5th.

On December 6th.

Surely, Lord, You are in this place! 

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2018 in Loving Others

 

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He Will Protect When I Can’t

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go. Psalm 121:7-8

Protect Hunter

“I don’t want to go to school! I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!

Since school began two weeks ago, this has been the wail of our little boy each morning. In the last two weeks we have mulled over and tried to eliminate any possible triggers. No substitute bus driver this morning. No pesky buttons on his pants. He is fed. He has slept pretty good. His class consists of kids and an aide with whom he is familiar. Everything we can control in his environment we have managed to, so what is the deal?

“I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!”

The wails continue as he stands at the bus stop, jaws clenched, arms crossed, grunts and wails on full display for all the other parents to see. To observe as the small child steps on the bus he seems to hate, stomps his feet, and screams at his parents one last time: 

“I.DON’T.WANT.TO.GO.TO.SCHOOL!”

What’s the deal? In our effort to control our environment and routine to keep our little boy happy, what have we missed? How does the little boy who can’t wait to pull out his folder and have me read about his day each afternoon, turn into this each morning?

The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. Psalm 41:1,2

“Mommy, Hunter said Tommy (names have been changed to protect the not so innocent) hits him and laughs at him at recess. And, Susie said she thinks he is annoying because he cries all the time.”

What’s the deal?

Well, it’s the one I feared would surface at some point. The deal that says-your son is different. He has special needs. He doesn’t operate in the same way. He can’t tolerate changes in the same way.

The deal that I hoped I’d never have to cash in. The moment when my little boy would be considered an outcast.

The moment when the differences meant to enhance the school’s push for “inclusion,” in fact exclude him. 

The moment when his needs and quirks would be considered weird and worthy of eye rolls and taunts from his peers.

The moment when a parent wants to raise a fist, shake a few fingers, and fight-anyone who even dares to mess with their children.

The Lord protects those of child-like faith. Psalm 116:6

Which means that I can put down my drawn fists. Put my pointing fingers away, because He has suited up for this fight.

As much as I want to climb on that bus and ride to school with my little boy. As much as I want to stand beside him on the playground to ensure no one gets past this Mama Bear, I know I can’t protect my little boy every moment of every day.

Instead, I have to let God handle that. I have to allow Him to stand in and protect my little boy from harm when Mama Bear cannot. Remain confident in the promise that Hunter is more precious to Him than two sparrows. Trusting that although I can’t be there for him day after day, week after week, and each and every new year, He will be. Standing in the gap for the mom ready to pounce and point a finger at the Tommys and Susies at any given moment.

None of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you; not a hair of your head will perish. Luke 21:15,18

God has certainly given Hunter exactly what he needs each year to navigate changes, new routines, and yes, even his quirks and differences. Whether it has been the same teacher each year, a bus driver who also happens to be the gym teacher, or the familiarity of a sweet and adoring friend, God ensures that the right people are placed into my son’s life. That they are placed there to protect the very hairs on his curly, brown head. To protect him from the Tommys and Susies. From the eye rolls and taunts.

To stand in the gap of this Mama Bear.

To protect a quirky and different little boy, when she cannot.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Autism and Faith, On Parenting

 

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