Let’s say that one more time, not for shock value, but for the sake of truth and hopefully conveying my heart:
No one is born an asshole.”
This can be said a plethora of ways: jerk, cheater, meanie, bully, etc. But the reality is, we are all born little, sweet, and tender. Having had 3 babies, I can say with confidence, from experience, none of them were born jerks or buttheads.
It’s pretty hard to believe, especially in light of all that we hear about in the news and people we have met in real life. So then, why is there pain and hurt and brokenness in the world? If we are all born chubby sweeties, where do we learn how to be total jerks to one another? Why is there hatred, war, fighting, bullying, jealousy, backbiting, estrangement, angst, and bitterness in the world? Why is there such a thing as an “enemy” and why can’t we get along with our neighbors? Why is “peacemaking” such a touchy subject and why are there “sides” to choose if we were all meant to be on one team? This could be the answer!!!
This is one of the many reasons I am so passionate about people’s stories. It’s also why as a peacemaker my heart gets bruised and discouraged sometimes. Because, you see, I am hard-wired with not only the heart of a peacemaker, but also with deep empathy that gets me into trouble when “sides” and “enemies” and “opposing parties” and “different vantage points” exist. And deep down, I also believe God’s a truth teller, the best there ever has been, so when He says our fight isn’t against another person but is a spiritual battle, I take His truth to heart.
Please understand me when I say, when I hear a person’s story of how their heart is hurting and so and so did it, my compassion is with the person who was hurt. At the same time I wonder about the brokenness in the other person and what would cause them to be hurtful. What is it that they are still holding onto, what hurt or unforgiveness, that has now become their filter for life?
Ever since Noah was in the hospital with a long list of things wrong with him but no official diagnosis or definition to explain the causes, I’ve been a fan of the question, “Why?” I do have some ideas and leads to why my boy was never well, but I may never ever truly know, and that’s often the case with why some people act mean, are hurtful, and can be overall jerks.
The hard part to wrap my head and heart around is knowing they weren’t born that way…
I understand what my mom meant when she said to be careful about peacemaking. When she first said that to me, I thought it was a ridiculous statement, but walking through pain with people, and being hurt myself at times, I get it. And I’ve listened as people have shared that deep down, they don’t want to make peace…because peace would entail vulnerability, and trust and vulnerability were what they were practicing when their heart got hurt in the first place.
Not everyone wants to make peace. Some people want to hold on to their offenses because they believe it helps or at least establishes a bit of defense and protection from further injury. The heart and mind can be a war zone and as humans who are made of flesh and blood, when our feelings are hurt, our usual first response is to protect ourselves…and never let it happen again.
So back to the part where no one is born an asshole…I know I’ve hurt the feelings of others. Sometimes I meant to, but usually I did not. And I can’t dissect everyone, but I can start on myself…a heart and mind lab where I ask myself why I treated so and so like that or why I reacted in such a way or why I’m thinking certain thoughts or letting things swirl around in my head rather than checking my heart, going directly to God, and then to the other person.
I can listen to others, especially and even people different from me, and then allow myself to wrestle a bit, challenge myself and my filters and thinking. And learn…be transformed by listening. Not allow fear to set in but allow God to remind my soul why He warned against that One Specific Tree in the first place…why it wasn’t the Tree of Life he said not to touch, but the one where He KNEW we would wield what we THOUGHT we knew about others…the one where we would start blaming the other guy for our choices.
People aren’t jerks just because they think differently than us. Maybe we have wars and battles and hurt and division because we are all walking around believing we are perfect?
In this world, we may have a propensity for selfishness and sin, however, much of it is learned. Our first identity was as children of God. The more we store up our offenses on the inside, trying to hide our imperfections in costumes of perfection, the bigger the rage and lashing becomes.
What IF we started relating to one another the way Jesus did? What IF “loving our enemies” actually looked like LOVE rather than mud-slinging and God-slinging and cyber-bullying and social-media bullying and Bible-bashing and political bandwagon and heated personal opinions?
What IF we stopped looking at the faults and shortcomings of others and started with our very own hearts?
Revival never came through mandatory attendance…it can only come through a laying down of our own lives and looking to the Very One who created us and knows every one of our hearts.”
What IF we learned a little something from Jesus when He said to become like children in order to inherit the Kingdom of God? Maybe He knew they weren’t born assholes, too, otherwise, wouldn’t He have admonished His listeners to become more like the Pharisees?
I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud.
(*This post has links to some fantastic, and life-altering, scripture. In light of what I shared above, I hope you’ll be able to read all of it and be encouraged and challenged by it, as I am every time I read it. It rubs me wrong, which must make it beneficial…like sandpaper to a piece of rough wood.)
Very good article and very appropriate for our times! I too am a peacemaker and can be easily offended too- not a great combination! I have learned that when offended or simply annoyed by someone to “chew” on it instead of immediately reacting. Normally, once I ask myself that basic question you posed, “Why am I offended?” I realize it is often something in my heart from my life experience where a wound still seeps. By the time my emotions reach my frontal lobe I can respond in a more Christ-like manner, often with compassion. Having said that, I almost lost it with a very insensitive FB post made by an acquaintance. This heart of mine constantly needs tending!?! Thank you for your insight into the heart-soooo important!
Amy, thanks for sharing some of your perspective! That simple thing of “chewing” on something rather than initially reacting, I think, has got to be half the battle! I know it’s hard for me, at least, but the more I practice that very thing you suggested, I find breathing and waiting and praying and “chewing” start to be my initial response. I love what you said about “something in my heart from my life experience where a wound still seeps.” That is SO GOOD and something Jason and I were just talking about the other day, compassion vs. the wound…do we treat the wound we thought was healed, cover it with a bandage as is, or let it keep festering? All hard questions we must ask ourselves…and that’s really hard!