Submitted By Kirsten Walkup:
I think the kid’s name was Jason. For reasons that aren’t totally clear now, I didn’t really like him. I remember him as being an obnoxious non-believer who frequently challenged me on my beliefs. I don’t think that’s the reason we didn’t get along though, throughout my life I seem to have a habit of making friends with obnoxious non-believers. Something about this kid really grated on me, to call him an outright jerk would probably be taking it too far and to say he was abrasive is something of an understatement. Whatever it was, we didn’t get along at all. Unfortunately we had the same circle of friends and were constantly running into each other.
This was during a time of my life when I was in my early 20’s and attending bible school in Dallas and working a night job in one of the local malls. I lived on campus and there was an enforced curfew. Since I worked evenings, the school couldn’t give me grief about coming in late (a fact I exploited many times). Often after work, a few friends of mine who worked around the area would get together at a coffee shop to unwind for a few hours. There were usually five or six of us, some were believers and some weren’t. We didn’t usually step on each other’s toes though. Back then I was fairly predatory when it came to theology but by the time we all got together late in the evenings, I didn’t really have the energy for a fight…except when Jason showed up.
One thing I do remember about Jason was that he tried really hard to fit in and did so at the expense of other people. If he sensed a weakness or insecurity in someone, he’d pounce in it. Another thing I remember was that he wasn’t particularly bright. I suspect this is why the others gave him a pass when he was being belligerent. Jason and I would typically verbally spar about things of varying religious significance, but one thing he loved to harp on was creation and evolution. Normally our exchanges didn’t last long mainly because I didn’t want to wear out our mutual friends. Beyond the two of us, I doubt the others had any interest in anything we were talking about and just wanted to relax for awhile. Normally when we’d tangle, I’d offer a token argument and dismiss him with a wave. He managed to catch me on the wrong night though.
Anyone who knows me well knows it takes me a long time to get angry, but once there, watch out. I’ve learned over the years to shorten the fuse a bit so as to avoid becoming enraged when angry, but at 20 I hadn’t yet learned that lesson. What started the argument that night between Jason and I is anyone’s guess. In fact I don’t even remember the details of it or what was said. I do remember unloading on him and thoroughly exposing his arguments and relative lack of intellectual firepower. And I remember still going after him long after the “debate” had been decided. On this evening, in my darkened state of mind, simply shutting the kid up wasn’t enough, I wanted to humiliate him in a public setting. I’d had enough.
What I remember with crystal clarity though, was when he got up in the middle of my rant, shot a baleful injured glare at me through red eyes near tears, and stormed out of our quaint little coffee house. I had succeeded in my goal but the victory was hollow. One by one, the few who had gathered there that evening awkwardly excused themselves and shuffled out and I was left alone with my thoughts and a very troubled spirit. What was I bothering with bible school and preparation of ministry for if not to show Christ’s love in situations like that?
I tried calling Jason a few times to apologize but never got through. After that evening, I never saw or spoke to him again and I don’t really know what became of him. I later heard through mutual friends that Jason was from an abusive household and his alcoholic father frequently beat him up when he was a kid. In retrospect, the reason Jason would often lash out is likely because there was a lot of stored-up pain in his spirit. I didn’t know any of this of course; I have already stated I didn’t like him so why bother getting to know him?
I think about Jason (I’m pretty sure that’s his name) every now and then and when I do I pray for him, wherever his is, whatever he’s doing. I’ve made many mistakes in my life but most of them have hurt me more than anyone else. This one was different because for a moment I utterly rejected the opportunity to live out the gospel in favor of crushing someone. And it bothers me to this day.
Love is a powerful thing. As Christians, we possess the most powerful form of love; the love of God. It was an incomprehensibly selfless love that led Christ to the cross where He laid down His life for the creation that He so dearly loved. And it is that same love that infuses itself into each of us when we accept His gift of salvation. We do not possess this love only to bestow it upon those for whom we have affection, but to give to those who need it the most. It has been my experience that those who are most in need are those that are utterly unlovable. I don’t really know what brings me to talk about this as I type this. I usually only share this story with great reluctance and have done so only a handful of times.
The people in life whose paths we cross we may never see again, and we never know what sort of eternal consequences, for better or worse, the products of our life will have on others. Does our life produce love, joy, and peace, or anger, hostility, and contempt?
I Corinthians 13:4-13
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Boss Your Heart (and tongue)!