A few weekends ago, Greg and I had some good friends visiting us from Michigan. On an especially beautiful fall day we decided to drive up to the Northern Georgia mountains, which is one of our favorite things to do. We stopped in a quaint little town called Dahlonega, which reminds me of stepping back in time to where life was simpler, kinder, and less chaotic. As we walked around the town’s square, we stepped into this one small shop that had a variety of goods: Fragrant candles, lovely local pottery, and specialty pieces all displayed on the shelves. What caught my eye was a t-shirt in the corner of the store with the words “Love Well” on it. As I looked at it I thought to myself, “Oh what a sweet message”. However, I didn’t realize was there was a painful story behind it. As I was admiring other items in the shop, I overheard the store keeper sharing with a customer of how the “Love Well” t-shirts came to be. It turns out that a local teenage girl was being bullied in school by a some of her classmates. One day, as they continued to pick on her, the young girl decided to read her bible. As she was reading it, she came across this verse:
“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.”
How wise she was to turn to God and His Word for comfort and understanding. She was wise beyond her years. Shortly after reading those words from her bible she decided to write “Love Well” across her arm. Many of her classmates thought it was a tattoo, it wasn’t. It was just a reminder for her to love well.
I thought to myself, why did she choose love verses lashing back at her bullying classmates? Many people would lash back to protect themselves from other’s hateful words. However, she chose to “Love Well”, because God’s word told her to. I was fascinated by this young girl’s response of compassion for the ones who were hurting her. I was so fascinated that when I returned home I decided to explore her story further. I googled the phrase “Love Well”, which led me to her website called Chatterstone (https://www.chatterstone.com/love-well-story). There I found a video of Sydney telling her story which is much more powerful than what I have communicated here.
In Sydney’s video she says, “It is much easier to love than to hate”. How much energy do we waste when we chose to hate someone? Okay, most of us would say we don’t hate anyone, but what about disliking, or avoiding someone, or an entire group of people? What would happen if we decided to choose love over hate? What would happen if we embraced things outside of comfort zone? Would our hearts become more compassionate?
Sydney’s story made me reflect on my own struggles with Love versus Hate. I wouldn’t say that I actively chose to hate the LGBTQ community, however there was a time when I certainly went out of my way to avoid them. Once I decided to get out of my comfort zone and spend time with Greg Jr.’s LGBTQ friends something began to happen inside me. My heart began to soften as I learned their stories. Every one of them had been hurt by someone’s unkind words or hateful remarks. How could I not feel compassion towards them? I could feel my judgmental attitude towards them begin to melt away. Why? Because, I have come to believe that once you have heard anyone’s story you can’t help but to love them. What was God doing in my heart? He took a Christian mom with perceived ideas about a group of people and turned it upside down by choosing to love. Yes, it is much easier to love than to hate.
Remember that loving your child or anyone for that matter, does not necessarily mean you condone their behavior. Here are some practical ways which we have learned worked really well.
Ask your child what he wished you knew about him.