"God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring us to eternal life through his death. In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but his love for us when he sent his Son to satisfy God's anger against our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too. For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and his love within us grows ever stronger." 1 John 4:9-12 (TLB)We have a nine year old Bichon Frise named Jack. We adopted him from a rescue group several years ago. We don't know what all he went through before he came to us. He was excessively thin and his fur was covered in sticker burrs. He also did not like men. Not at all. When he had only been with me for a few hours, he defended me from my husband when he came home from work. Jesse had to work a bit to show Jack that he wasn't a threat but now he is the one man that he loves and trusts.
Because we don't know his history before us, we tend to be a bit gentle with Jack. He is frightened by loud or unexpected noises and he cringes if someone raises their voice. We try to pay close attention to our actions and reactions, knowing that he has experienced enough scary things in his little life. We want him to feel secure and to know that we love him and always will take care of him.
During our busy lives we encounter numerous people. We usually have no idea what any of them have been through. They could have come from the best family on earth or they may have grown up in abusive situations that defy description. No matter what their background though, one thing is for certain and that is that they need love and acceptance. It is how we are made. We also don't know what they will encounter in the future. However, we have the option of making specific moments, those that we spend with them, times when they feel special.
One thing that I always told students is that people will always remember how you made them feel. I know from personal experience that is true and I'm sure you do as well. We need to be mindful of that and strive to make all of our encounters pleasant ones. We don't have control over how anyone else speaks or acts but we do have control over our responses. Kindness can diffuse tense situations so even if we find ourselves in one where we are not being treated kindly, we can still respond in kindness.
One other point, we need to be teaching our children the same thing. The best way to do that is by modelling the behavior we want them to develop. It is a harsh world they have to grow up in. But they can be the ones to make a difference if we encourage it and if they see by our own behavior that we truly believe it. Jesus took a lot of abuse but He didn't return that abuse with more abuse. He exhibited the love of the Father and taught us to love one another. He set the perfect example. All we need to do is follow it. God bless.