A Coin In The Fountain of Youth

20 10 2007

This week I met one of the meanest, foulest, most unlikable people that I’ve encountered in a long time.  His arrogance surpassed that of most anonymous bloggers (!).  His self confidence belied what was certain to be an inner termite colony of insecurity.  His ability to belittle and intimidate was masterful.  And yet unhappiness was just seeping out of his pores. 

Have you tried any of the new V8 drinks that claim flavors like strawberry/kiwi, tropical fruit, or, I don’t know, dogwood and pine.  No matter what they call the drink, I still can’t get past the fact that I’m drinking carrot juice.  So it goes with this bully that I encountered.  People like him might claim one indentify on the exterior, but I still can’t help but see a crying, hurting child inside.  I guess that’s how God has allowed me to love beyond circumstances and forgive beyond reason.  Not that I’m any bastion of these virtues, it’s just that I’ve learned that you can’t know a person by one or two brief encounters.  I’ve also learned that the people who try to demonstrate how perfect they are, and how worthless you are, tend to be fighting inner demons.  Somewhere in their younger days there were abusive parents, cruel peers, or unfortunates fates that broke this person on the inside, and caused them to want to create an exterior designed to make them feel better about themselves. 

Is this observation of mine merely sour grapes when feeling as though a bully has bested me?  Am I, in some sort of George Costanza way, looking for the perfect jerk-store comeback, and failing to find one I reach out at for that which is not easily proven?  Maybe.  Or maybe there is great truth to the notion that those who appear the most vile or evil on the outside are often those who are the most to be pitied.  Somehow, those who like to bully and push around others in thoughts that they are physically, emotionally, and intellectually superior, are in effect trying to make amends for a time in their past when others made them feel inferior. 

When we deal with those who are most difficult to love, most difficult to care about, and most difficult to abide, we’re confronted with the difficult conundrum that Jesus put before us.  We are to love everyone regardless.  We are to forgive everyone regardless.  That’s the hard standard.  And that’s the best way to prove out the intangibles of life.  That’s the way to show Christ to a world of infinite skeptics.  It’s only by the power of the Spirit of God at work in our lives that we can have any hope of loving the ultimate unlovables.

Those unlovables are desperately trying to make amends for their history.  Those unlovables are tossing coins in the fountain of youth wishing for a chance to replay days gone by and to be on top of things, rather than under them.

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