Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

To love the unlovable…

“According to 1 Corinthians 13, believers are to love the unlovable. We are to love people who do not appreciate our love, do not reciprocate in kind, are demanding, and think of themselves as entitled.”

–David L. Goetsch

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

–1 Thessalonians 3:12

“Dere’s good in everybody.”

–Grandpa Gordy Thompson

Eighth-graders…

the most awesome, delightful, frustrating, confusing, challenging people you’ll ever meet…

And that’s just the first hour.

Each morning, as I marched into the middle school, I carried the wisdom of my Lord (and Grandpa Gordy) in my heart…searching for that something to love…the good…in every student.

And with His help, I did really well…for years…

Until the last one.

She sauntered in, this model-beautiful girl…smart…funny…wildly talented in track and field…but at the end of class, I sat back and thought, “Uff da. I. do. not. like. this. girl!”

There was this off-handed arrogance (“I can’t help that I’m so amazing, you worms.”), this disregard for others…all the annoying teen tendencies, but on steroids, punching a hole in my normally solid wall of tolerance.

I started praying. “Lord, let me find that beauty in her that You see, what makes her special. Help me love her. I’m having some trouble here.”

Two weeks into my nine-week course…zip. That whole “see others as You do, Jesus” was falling on deaf ears in my spirit. I took my appeal to the teachers’ lounge…

“Whew, yeah, she’s a tough one. Don’t know what to tell you.”

“Sorry, I got nothing.”

“Good luck!” snorted the third.

More prayer. Week four…

“Lord…any time now…”

Project day. There they all sit, heads bent, lost in the tranquil flow of industrious creativity…

She jabs her elbow into the boy next to her…

“Hey! Go sharpen my pencil!”

No “please”…no “could you?”…Hoo, boy! I soooo want to slam her with a fistful of snark…

Instead…

I pause…pray…open my mouth…

“Even though ________ is a world-class athlete, she is so weakened by her training that she can’t even sharpen a pencil. Give a girl some help, please.”

Her head snaps up. Our eyes meet. An unspoken message…”Okay, Madame B…you’re calling me on my crap…but you get me…and you’ve got me…”

I smile and silently affirm…”Yup.”

Then she’s standing…and walking to the sharpener.

Thank You, Holy Spirit.

He gave me the proper response…and the ability to deliver it with genuine kindness and just the right touch of humor. Because He’s that good.

From that point on, things improved. She made an effort to interact less selfishly with all of us, and I grew to accept and love her even more, rough edges and all.

Often what I’m hoping for, what I’m praying for, is some magical transformation of the unlovable…

Only to find that it’s ME that gets transformed.

Psalm 139: 23-24–Search me, Lord, and know my heart; test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

He will lead you…

to the right words…

the right attitude…

the right heart…

for others.

He will lead you…

to Him.

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