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As much as I love my husband and Valentine’s Day, neither of those has made me ponder love more than the vivid memory of a conversation between my young child and a hockey player years ago.
We were at the ice rink awaiting lessons and this older boy, more experienced and wearing hockey skates, approached my son. He took one look at my child, who was sporting ice skates, and quipped, “Hey, you’ve got the wrong skates.” Obviously, he thought ice skates weren’t manly.
To add insult to injury, he made another derogatory comment in front of some friends. He said my son’s new hairstyle made him look like a bird. My little skater had been thrilled about his “faux hawk” earlier that morning but came off the ice covering his head with his hood and trying everything he could to flatten out his “crown.”
Obviously, the older boy’s harsh words didn’t make me think too much about love. What I really thought about was how to get out on the ice and tell that boy a few things about his skates and his hair.
Instead, my deep, intense ponderings came during a family devotion the day after this happened. We were discussing God’s love for us and how we could truly love others the way God desires. A conversation about what occurred at the ice rink ensued. Steve addressed our little boy and asked, “Well, how could you have shown him love?” Our son was silent. Being the “Momma Bear” that I am, I suppressed the feelings of anger rising within me and sat quietly, waiting to hear what my little one said. All the while, I was thinking it probably would have been best just to tell this young man that my son liked his hair the way it was and walk away. But that wasn’t the right answer.
A few seconds later, my husband answered his own question. His words still ring in my ears and resonate with my heart on every level: “What you could have done is say, ‘Well, I like my hair this way. By the way, your hair is pretty cool too.’ ”
I got hit right between the eyes with that one. Too many times I think that I am loving someone — that I’m exhibiting Christ-like behavior — just because I don’t respond when they “push my buttons.” But if I truly desire to love others with the love of Christ, I must take it further.
I must choose to act. After all, “Christ demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8). God put his love for me into action. He “acted out.”
So, if I ever see this young man again, I won’t comment about his hair. I won’t smile sweetly and then growl secretly under my breath. Instead, I will choose to love him. I will choose to encourage him, despite his potential to discourage my child yet again. I will choose to fight how I feel and bless instead of curse. I will choose to pray for him and do good unto him. I will choose to demonstrate Christ’s love for him to him because that’s how Jesus has loved me.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus. Thank you that you love me fully and unconditionally. Teach me to love the way you do regardless of the situation. Teach me to be intentional about my responses to those around me. Glorify yourself through your love of others, through my life. Praise you, father, praise you.
Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 and firstname.lastname@example.org.