“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
Our culture has had an increased emphasis recently on the problem of bullying. I fear at times that it is an over-emphasis on a natural phase of life which weakens the resolve of some kids to endure difficulty. That is my opinion but it is not a denial of the reality of a problem.
That opinion has been challenged recently as I have watched one of my own endure a certain amount of bullying or meanness from a few so-called friends at school. We have heard the stories and seen the tears of one broken-hearted young lady, feeling destroyed by something as fickle as the opinions of others (I’ve been told I don’t understand because I’m not a girl.).
Recently it came to light again as I picked her up from school. When she got into the truck, tears streamed down her cheeks as she began to cry and pour her heart out about what had happened that day. She was greeted by the laughter of her two “friends” about her choice of clothing for that day. At some point they criticized her hair, a point she previously wasn’t worried about but now is aware. Then the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was one “friend” demanding the other not give my daughter the address or directions to the birthday party she had been invited to two days earlier. She was crushed! The emotion was inconsolable.
Wendy and I have heard similar things all year from the same two names and we have seen the heartache she feels. We’ve counseled repeatedly to encourage her about her beauty, her spirit, and great value in the heart of God. We’ve tried to counter their cruel words with gracious words of biblical truth and joyful hope. And recently we’ve encouraged her to find new friends because they don’t fit the true definition of “friend.” It’s in that very counsel and my little lady’s response that God showed me a picture of unconditional love.
As I listened to her cries, I said, “You just need to find some new friends!”
Her reply, “But Daddy, they are two of my favorites!”
Wow! No matter how many times over the school year they have hurt her feelings or sent her home crying, she still considers them two of her best friends. That is unconditional love!
That is Jesus-type love; love that would look into the eyes of wicked abusers and cry, “Father, forgive them.” It is a love that though because of our sinfulness we have offended God, he has “demonstrated his [unconditional] love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
And that is the type of love we are called to show others. When the world says write them off and look elsewhere (as I did to my little girl), Jesus called us to love even the least.
Thank you, Lord, for your demonstration of love through the rugged cross and through the heart of my little girl!
Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."