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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Love is Patient, Love is Kind

Overheard at a thrift store, not intentionally:

Mom: “Hold this!”

12ish girl: “Here, hold this!”

Mom: “Don’t be rude!”

Girl: “You were rude!”

Mom: “Go stand over there and be quiet, I’m not talking to you!”

Oh, I felt sorry for that girl, who is very nearly a young woman. Visions of my own childhood danced in my head. Nobody likes to be ordered around. Nobody likes to be treated with rudeness as though they are deserving of it. I so wanted to open my mouth and say something to that Mom. But an angel made me bite my tongue.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

You know that I don’t make a habit of spouting off scripture, but this came to mind. It would be very easy for me to point my finger at that Mom and say: “See? You’re accusing her of the same thing you are doing! You need to straighten up!”

What is it about human beings that we are always so quick to point at other people before recognizing our own faults? There I go pointing my finger, again!

What I meant to say was: Why am I so quick to recognize the faults of others, especially my own children, when I have plenty of my own faults to attend to?

I was meant to overhear that conversation. God was speaking to me.

How many times have I spoken to my children like a drill sergeant, rather than treating them with the dignity and respect that all creatures of God deserve as God’s creation? And then expect them to treat me with respect?

Um, just about daily.

“Come on, we need to go in 5 minutes! Got your shoes on NOW!”

“What do you mean you haven’t brushed your teeth, YET?!”

“”Here, put this away!”

And so on. Okay, maybe it’s more often than daily. I think I need to take a personal inventory.

As a parent, I am the steward of my children. While “Thou shalt not be rude” isn’t on the list of commandments, and “Honor thy father and my mother” is, so is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The greatest of the commandments is Love. And while Loving my children does require that I correct them at times, it also requires that I model for them what it means to be a child of God.

It means I must be patient.

It means I must be kind.

It means I must respect them.

It means I must not be rude to them.

My rights before God are not greater than theirs. I am not some superhuman who somehow deserves to be bowed down to and catered to. If I wish to be respected, I must be respectful.

How can they possibly know what it means to be respectful of others if I don’t show them how?

And on a psychological note: kindness generally does breed kindness, and respect generally does breed respect. While I won’t convert every person I come in contact with by treating them well, it is wise and just to give what I would like to receive.

Returning to that young lady in the thrift store: While I could not correct her Mom, I could be kind to her. She stood there looking glum and I whispered to her, “Please excuse me,” as I passed by. She doesn’t know it, but I was asking for more than being pardoned for crossing her path.

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