Love Really Does Win

angry bear One of my dear ones was hurt emotionally not so long ago, and like a she-bear, I would have liked nothing better than to confront the offending party.  It would be extremely satisfying to point out exactly how wrong, illogical, and hurtful the offender’s actions were, and more importantly, I would feel like I was doing something to help or to bring some justice to the situation.

I did not challenge them, more out of respect for my dear one than for the offender. And instead, I decided to grade papers.  There’s a saying that goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my case, though I was the teacher, I was taught again (probably for the hundredth time!) about how love really does win through one of my student’s writing assignments.

The writing assignment was based on a personal experience that required the student to entirely reconsider his or her attitude toward another person. My student (whom I’ll call Tammy) wrote about a work experience where her younger coworker began bullying Tammy’s daughter who was a new employee.  The daughter was a little overweight, and the bullying coworker showed no mercy or restraint in making that obvious to all.  The daughter was so miserable that she eventually quit the job.

Though Tammy would have liked to confront this coworker about her mistreatment of her daughter, she somehow refrained and instead, she decided that she was not going to let this bully’s behavior ruin her job, too.  She determined she would be her normal, happy self, and that she would ignore any negativity from the bully.  Over time, Tammy was surprised that the bully began to talk to her, and Tammy continued to treat her kindly, just as she did everyone else.  Even more surprising is that eventually the bully became a friend, both to Tammy and her daughter, the very one who had been bullied.

When I read Tammy’s account about how she handled the mistreatment of her dear one, and how it resolved by continuing to show love and kindness to the offending person, I was prompted to think of my own dear one’s situation in a different light.  Even Jesus, when he suffered on the cross, asked the Father for a little mercy on behalf his tormentors because “they know not what they do.” In our world full of hurts, maybe a little extra kindness where it is not deserved may bring about much-needed healing, and infusing a negative, hurtful situation with the love of God might provide the reconciliation that we all desire. If indeed “God is Love” (I John 4:8), then allowing that love to flow through us to those with whom we are at odds may be our way to participate as God transforms this world, one person at a time.

It would have been VERY satisfying, humanly speaking, to respond in kind to the person who hurt my loved one.  But, as I learned from my spiritual teacher Tammy, seeing transformation as the goal, rather than revenge or justice, means that love must be applied lavishly.  With transformation as the objective, love really does win.

~by Nan Kuhlman

     photo courtesy of  www.wallpaperslibrary.com

8 comments so far

  1. Emily Katherine on

    Relating to this article, I can say I really appreciate what you wrote. It is still one of the hardest things to do, but I loved you sharing your experience.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Emily Katherine,

      It is a hard thing to do, and by sharing Tammy’s story, I was hoping to inspire myself (and readers like you) to look beyond the hurt and the desire for justice and consider that maybe the offender’s transformation involves our participation with God by extending love and mercy where it’s not deserved. I found in Tammy’s story a “happy ending” for those willing to try. Thanks for taking time to comment.

      Nan

  2. What a beautiful story, Nan! For me, it is so difficult to know when to confront and when not to. My instinct is to just let people hurt me (and others), but I am learning to set and defend boundaries. I still haven’t mastered the distinction between “taking care of myself” and “spiteful vengeance.” 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      John,

      Setting appropriate boundaries is a difficult issue for many people. In my case (and in my student Tammy’s case), the “battle” really was not ours to fight, as our dear ones were old enough to do so themselves and any intervention by Tammy or me in our respective situations would have diminished our loved ones’ position. With younger children, I think it is always appropriate to intervene as a parent. My point is that humanly we are more interested in justice than we are in patiently waiting for God to transform a person, and we are even less interested in participating in that transformation by being an agent of God’s love. Right now, I still don’t want to participate in God’s transformation of this person, but at least I’m thinking about it, and that is progress. As for the distinction between “taking care of myself” and “spiteful vengeance,” I believe the difference is in my attitude. If I create boundaries with an angry heart rather than approaching the situation more matter-of-factly (as in “this is what I need for this to work”), then I think it is leaning toward spiteful vengeance rather than taking care of myself. It requires understanding that your needs are just as valid as the next person’s, and sometimes we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list. Thanks for raising the boundaries issue – you’re not alone!

      Nan

  3. iamjean9 on

    Lovey post, Nan! I really feel that if a person’s intent is to change the behaviour of another – even to stop them from bullying them – they are usually doomed to failure. It’s a much better use of energy to change one’s own response (inner and outer). So on the surface, it looks like your friend did nothing – but she chose inner peace over inner war, and set a terrific example for her daughter in doing so, It’s a HUGE thing to learn – and not easy.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jeannine,

      I agree that changing oneself is more productive than trying to change someone else. When we see transformation (or change) as God’s responsibility, we will find it easier to change our own response to the offender and wait for God to transform the person. As long as we think that we have (or should have) some control in changing another person, we will wrestle with this issue – as I still do! We write what we need to learn most!

      Nan

  4. Rajan Babu Mandhapalli on

    GOD BLESS YOU

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Rajan,

      Thanks for your blessing – I appreciate it!

      Nan


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