Wednesday, July 18, 2012

for the enemy.

I've been reading Romans lately and have been enjoying learning and relearning about Christ's sacrifice and love. Paul's letter has been teaching me new things about who Christ is and who I am.
Some of the verses I read this morning, Romans 5:6-8, describe Christ's love as follows:
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
I thought about one time when I experienced a minor minor example of what it might feel like to love someone so much that when they're still hurting you, breaking your heart, taking from you, bashing you, or taking advantage of you, you still feel that all-encompassing love for them and would do anything for them.

(this is somewhat of a long story, but I promise it's worth it)

I used to work at a group home. It is a home for children who are in the custody of the state either temporarily or permanently because of a lack of guardian; that could be because of abuse, neglect, death, or any number of other unfortunate circumstances. I spent the majority of my day with the girls. My job was to plan and implement events and activities for the kids, but mostly I felt like a mama. I spent time talking, guiding, directing, and just spending time with the girls that I had grown to love.

I had an interaction with one particularly difficult girl in the home who was decidedly rebellious and edgy: two things that are the complete opposite of my personality if you know me. I avoid confrontation, she looks for it. I like to please people, she likes to stir the pot. I dress preppy and modest, she goes for the shock-factor. You get the picture. For whatever reason, I felt inclined towards her because I could see heart in this girl. When everyone else (staff and girls included) saw her as a nuisance, I saw her as someone to be pursued. Don't ask me why. It was NOT the easiest or most natural reaction when I met her. I know it was because the Lord wanted to teach me a lesson about His love, for which I am so grateful for.

Long story short, I had one particularly rough day. Essentially my girl was in deep trouble at the home. I went to bat for her and got her some privileges that she should not have had based on her behavior. It was because I believed in her and loved her. She was required to do ONE thing in order for me to allow her these privileges, and I was in charge of making sure she did so. I'm guessing you know what happens next: she did not follow that ONE rule. (surprise!)
I had to do my job and follow through with consequences. She got mad and said and did things that only your worst enemy would say or do. It brought me to tears right there in front of her and I did something that I'd promised myself I'd never do: I yelled at her. (This goes back to the fact that I knew her story and knew that yelling was not the answer when she was in trouble.) But this was different. I was not yelling because I wanted to punish her. I was yelling because, well, for one thing she would not have heard me otherwise. I yelled because I could not contain my heart. I yelled, "Stop doing this, the reason I want you to follow the rules is because I love you!"

She stopped yelling. She stopped cussing. She stopped her tantrum. I saw the one thing that I'm pretty sure nobody else at the home had seen in her, tears. She became completely quiet. She stopped breaking the rule. She wiped her eyes. And that was the end. That was all I needed.

I went home that day in tears myself. I was SO tired, frustrated, and worn down by this ONE child, yet I was not crying for any of those reasons. I was crying because of the overflow of love I had in my heart for this girl. That day (and many others) she was my worst enemy, but I sacrificed so much simply because I love her. She may never know fully how I felt about her. I may never see her or hear from her again. But that day I felt a glimmer, certainly not even so much as a hint, of what Christ feels for His children.
When we were still hurting Him, sinning, He died for us.

My story was impacting in my life and taught me a great lesson about forgiveness and love. I attached this video to bring another larger perspective from a group of people who I feel really get this concept. This example completely trumps mine on the scale of hurt and suffering, so I thought I'd pass it along as well to provide an example of people who are really living out what they believe and learning about Christ's love.

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