In the chaos of finding a seat between church services and a pinch of social anxiety, I found myself sitting behind a young mom and her cute little blonde-haired kiddos. Her son was probably 7-8 years old, and the little girl sitting beside her was probably 5 or 6. I couldn’t help but be a tad distracted watching their busy bodies during the service. At the start of the sermon, their mom dug out some scratch paper from her purse and handed each child a pencil to draw with. It seemed to keep them both pretty occupied for the duration of the sermon. Just as the pastor was finishing up, the little girl leaned across her mom’s lap and handed her older brother a small, white square of paper. On it, she had carefully drawn a big heart and in kindergarten-like, squiggly letters written out his name. That’s so cute! I thought to myself as I watched her anticipate his reaction to her carefully thought-out sentiment that she was clearly proud of. Her brother ignored her for a moment, then grabbed the paper and immediately ripped it right down the middle into two—not even taking a second to look at it. In an instant, I watched her face turn from pride and joy into sheer disappointment. Let’s just say mom was not happy about his reaction and he quickly got the ‘stern whisper-because-we’re-in-church’ talk in his ear (been there, had that happen before!).
I chuckled a little bit to myself as I watched the whole scenario unfold in front of me. I grew up in a house with brothers, and some days that’s just how they are, right? Sometimes the ‘annoying sister’ gets the brunt end of it all. But isn’t this a perfect example of how life feels sometimes? Like we perfectly create a masterpiece designed to demonstrate our effort + love and the instant we give it away it gets torn into two, without the world even taking a second to glance at it. All our hard work and heartfelt intentions get shattered in a split second. It’s like that college exam you prepared and studied for all week long—only to finish it and realize nothing you really studied was on it. That paper you poured your time and effort into only to be told by your professor it wasn’t really on the right track. That friendship you spent so much time building and enjoying only to be broken by a single event or hardship. Maybe you can relate. Sometimes really good intentions and meaningful actions can flip on us and have the reverse reaction we expect them to. I’m not sure if there’s anything more frustrating than that. So we find ourselves saying something along the lines of this.. Well, I was just trying to be nice. I was just attempting to do the right thing. That’s the last time I’ll ever do something nice for YOU…
But here’s a few things I learned from these two little kiddos
- Loving your enemies is hard. Really hard.
Ironically, part of the sermon the pastor was giving was about loving your enemies—not just the people you love (because that’d be too easy) but truly loving your enemies also. Our first reaction when someone treats us in a way we don’t feel we deserve to be treated is usually defensive, right? We fight back, or talk about how terrible they are behind their backs. But if we want to be more like Jesus, then we’re called to really love them, especially when it’s hard. And it’s so hard! So instead of taking a defensive stand, or fighting back, we’re called to pray for them—not that they would be cursed and ‘get what they deserve’, but pray that they would be blessed. So here’s your challenge for the week–think of who those people might be in your life; those people who really get under your skin, and add them to your prayer list with me this week.
- Your positive motives and good intentions aren’t for nothing.
Regardless of how that boy made his little sister feel, Jesus knows the intentions of her heart. When you fail that test after countless hours of stress and studying, Jesus knows you gave it your all. When that friend betrays you or turns their back, at least you tried. When you get knocked back to ground zero, your good intentions and the motive behind what you did may be tossed aside by the world, but the God of the world knows your heart. And as for the little boy, when we mess up and our motives aren’t lined up the way they should be, Jesus sees that and STILL LOVES US. How cool is that? I love it. So as hard as it is to always be the person with good intentions–when life knocks you down, keep getting back up. It’ll make you a stronger person, it’ll teach you valuable lessons along the way. And when you’re on the other side of things, when you grab the sheet of paper and rip it in half, when you’re frustrated—it’s okay. Forgiveness is a real thing, and God’s got plenty.
As savage as it was for that little boy to rip his sister’s masterpiece in half, the sweetest moment happened at the end. Church finished and he was instructed by his mother to ‘make things right with your sister, please.’ Without hesitation, he knelt down on the floor beside her and gave her a sweet hug and told her he was sorry. It was seriously the sweetest little moment, and I loved the fact that she forgave him and hugged him back—I swallowed the little lump in my throat as I left. But that’s the beautiful thing about life. After you get knocked down, Jesus has a way of picking you back up and giving you a much-needed squeeze.
So take a moment this week and even when life resists you, keep being a good person, keep loving others, keep sharing your heart, keep spreading Jesus’ love. This world needs it!
Thanks for reading along, guys! I’m so thankful for you!