Love for Others
Loving Our EnemiesLoving our enemies is not a natural reaction; it’s a supernatural action. (Kent Crockett, Making Today Count for Eternity, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2001, p. 72)
The Crossword Puzzle
A man was working a crossword puzzle and asked, "What is a four letter word for a strong emotional reaction toward a difficult person?" Someone standing nearby said, "The answer is hate." A lady interrupted and said, "No, the answer is love!" Everyone is working that same crossword puzzle, but the way you answer is up to you. (Kent Crockett, The 911 Handbook, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003, 23)
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
My daughter Hannah practiced for two weeks for the high school cheerleader tryouts. She had been a junior varsity cheerleader but wanted to move to the top squad. Only three varsity spots were available in a school of about two thousands students. And Hannah was nervous about competing against the other girls.
“Dad, do you think God wants me to make the varsity squad?” she asked.
“Practice as hard as you can,” I answered. “Do your best at the tryouts, and leave the results to God.”
Her best friend, Melissa, who was already a varsity cheerleader, practiced with Hannah every day to help her make the varsity squad. They had talked about how fun it would be if they could cheer together. Melissa taught her the proper way to jump and encouraged her to keep a smile on her face. When Hannah became discouraged, Melissa always egged her on with, “You can do it, Hannah! I know you can!”
On the day of the tryouts over a hundred girls showed up to compete for the three spots. That afternoon each girl performed a routine in front of the judges. The results of the competition would be posted at Although each contestant had high hopes of making the squad, all but three would go home heartbroken that evening.
Just before , Hannah came bursting in our front door sobbing uncontrollably. Immediately my wife, Cindy, and I jumped out of our chairs and rushed over to comfort her for not making the cheerleading squad. Cindy patted her on the back and said, “It’s OK that you didn’t make varsity cheerleader. We still love you, and we’re glad that you tried.”
Hannah continued to cry. She finally settled down and explained what happened.
“Mom and Dad, I did make varsity. But Melissa didn’t make it! The judges demoted her to the junior varsity squad and gave me her place on the varsity. She’s devastated. I hurt so badly for her!”
We were stunned. Melissa had gone the extra mile to help Hannah make the varsity team so they could cheer together. We certainly didn’t expect this strange turn of events. With hands covering her face, Hannah continued to weep. “I don’t want to be a varsity cheerleader now. I want my junior varsity position back so Melissa can stay on varsity. Do you think the judges will let me swap places with her? I love her so much. Now she says she has nothing to live for.”
“Hannah, I don’t think the judges would allow that,” I said.
She realized what she needed to do. Immediately she got up, walked out the front door, and drove to Melissa’s house. She wanted to comfort Melissa that night, so she slept on the floor next to her bed. Hannah knew the best thing she could do was to be near her friend during this difficult time.
The next few days Hannah helped her work through her devastation. Melissa put her disappointment behind her and excelled in other ways during her remaining years in high school.
I watched Hannah lead cheers at varsity football and basketball games for the next two years. But that’s not what I remember most about her cheerleading career. My fondest memory was the night she slept on the floor of a hurting friend.
When you swap places with others to feel how they hurt, you’ve taken the first step toward loving your neighbor as yourself.
(Kent Crockett, I Once Was Blind But Now I Squint,