Over Christmas break I (hopefully not alone in this) watched…um… a lot of TV/movies. I made my husband, Gio, watch one of my favorite movies that he’d never seen before called “About a Boy.” It’s a romantic comedy/drama placed in London where Hugh Grant plays a careless playboy who unwillingly befriends a dorky teenager who’s having a rough time in school and at home being raised by a fragile single mother. Grant’s character takes the kid to Sketchers in hope that some “cool new trainers” will make him more popular with the other kids at school. These specific sneakers the teen tried on had a complicated velcro latch and as he was fumbling about trying to get it, Grant frustratedly exclaims “It’s not hard!” and then proceeds to bend down to try to fasten the shoe and quickly realizes/says “All right, I admit, it’s a bit hard.” (Imagine all of this in a British accent because it makes it slightly more interesting.)
This was a pretty insignificant line in the movie, but one of my favorites to quote with my mom, because I find myself in situations like these all the time. The situation is: seeing what someone else is dealing with and feeling like it’s really not “that hard” and that if I was going through that, I would handle it like a boss. Before you get mad at me, look inside and see if you’ve ever judged a person before trying to see things from his or her perspective. When I make a snap judgement, I’m almost always wrong. In that, what I’ve found is people aren’t usually rude because they like to be that way. People aren’t usually just obnoxious or attention seeking or lazy or crude because they consciously choose to be. We’ve all heard it before that every single person you see around you is going through something. But what I’ve found in the past is that I used to hold my compassion until I knew specifically what that person was going through. Once I knew their home situation, I gave compassion. Once I knew they lost their dad at a young age, I felt moved. Once I knew they had been abused, I became more patient. But that’s not really love at all, is it?
That’s definitely not how Jesus loved people. Where the religious men saw an adulterous woman who should be punished, Jesus saw a daughter who needed forgiveness and mercy. Where the world saw a tax collector, Jesus saw Matthew his disciple. In a society that assigned little to no value on children, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Once I realized that my love for people was trash compared to His, I knew I needed a change. I felt Him tell me, “You have to love people before you understand the reason for their weakness.” That requires prayer and actively taking my thoughts captive and submitting them to Christ before accepting them into my mind. It’s not natural and it takes practice, but it’s worth it. Loving like Christ is freeing, humbling, empowering and supernatural. It’s really none of my business why someone is the way they are. Maybe it’s a good reason and maybe it’s not. God didn’t ask me to find out. He commanded me to love. If you need more motivation, let me leave you with this challenging thought from good ole Jesus himself…
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. …But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32-36 NIV)