THE GIFT OF LOVE
Stepping out onto the sidewalk the black eye forming on my son’s face hit me as it if was my own. A group of thugs, not present before I stepped into the ladies room, now lined the cinder-block building. Although the specifics were hidden, it was no secret that a brawl had taken place in my absence -- my son bore the unfortunate sign of going solo in the midst of the prowling gang.
As we walked away, I looked over my shoulder and hurled a few scathing words at the hoodlums making it clear that their brutal act had not gone unnoticed. As I woke from the horrific dream, the momma bear in me was aching to go hand-to-hand with those punks even though they were just players in a dream.
Thugs are everywhere: dreams, streets, public places, and stores. We don’t expect to encounter them in homes, churches, and safe places, but not all bad people hit with their fists. Sometimes they batter their prey with words and attitudes forgetting all semblances of love. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been an unloving thug on occasion.
So what do these brutes look like when inhabiting supposedly safe places? They can look like you and me, but toxic words and attitudes often bubble just beneath the surface of seemingly harmless appearances.
Many cruel and loveless acts are performed at the hands of church people. Most of us have heard stories of down-and-out people seeking refuge in a Sunday morning service only to be scoffed at because their clothes were dirty or torn. Maybe they smelled. After rejection at the hands of the world, the same piercing sting came from people who should have embraced them. It may not be a black eye, but neither is it a display of loving behavior.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve played the thug in my own home. As a mother and wife, I have spewed ugly words with the intent to hurt. Immature children sling verbal poison at times. And, although we shouldn’t, sometimes we moms answer back with our own cutting words. At least I have. I’ve done the same thing with my husband. We love each other, but all play the thug at times.
When the dust settles on the non-physical brawls of unkind words and attitudes, it is good to act on the forgiveness that Jesus teaches. Seeking forgiveness is the best way to put thuggish behavior to rest while, at the same time, healing the ugliness that spills onto others. Only then does love flow freely.
We all have the potential to act like thugs. Self-centered behavior that demands our own way is a great place to start. Forcing others to accept our beliefs helps us speed down the “Boulevard of Unloving Acts.” Even when we believe we are supported by truth, it is never right to tell others what to do or hit them over the head with self-righteous attitudes. Our job is to love others; God takes care of the rest.
As we enter the Christmas the season, let us show good will toward ALL men. For those who look different from us, those whose attitude do not match ours, and even those who are actual thugs . . . let us show them the love that descended from heaven, manifest as a babe in a manger. God’s love breaks through the hearts and minds of all men, women, children, and, yes, thugs. Instead of leaving a wake of black eyes, let us open our arms and give the gift of love.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also outght to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
(1 John 4:10-12 NIV).
Shona, thank you sweet friend, for sharing such a powerful message with us today. It is a pain that many feel. A deep hurt that we secretly carry and one that most do not dare to share. It is often said, "Hurt people, hurt people." That is so very true. Our words carry such power. May this be a reminder to us to speak with love, to act in love and to live in love.
Blessings to you, Shona. I pray you will return as a guest writer and share with us again soon.