Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sticks And Stones

The sting of steel cutting up into my lips and teeth, brought me quickly around to confront the kid shoving me from behind in the drinking fountain line.  I was tall for my age, and tough as nails from hard farm work, with more spit and vinigar than any seven year old really ought to have.  My arm was cocked and fist doubled with only a foot between it and the intended recipient of my retaliatory strike, but to my surprise, it was not a boy, but a pretty girl who I was about to pummel!  It's purpose suddenly lost, my swinging arm dropped harmlessly below its cowering target, and as soon as its threat was gone, her frightened countenance leaped at me in snarling savagery.
     "Were you really going to hit me Quinn Heder?" she yelled loud enough for the whole class and teacher to hear.  Then, filled with twenty five against one bravery she shoved me again, stepping up close to my face while she made her threat, " better watch out, cause my big brother's going to beat you up."  Then came the blow that tilted my young world, as crinkling her lips and squinting her eyes with disgust she exclaimed
     "Euuuu, ...your breath stinks!"
So devastating were those words, at that moment in on my developing psyche, that for nearly five years I couldn't even make eye contact or even say hi to a girl I considered pretty, and for more than twenty years, wouldn't be caught dead without gum in my mouth.
      While nearing the pinnacle of childhood singing fame on rural Utah later that same year, a friend leaned into my ear and told me that I sang like a girl.  I promptly beat the unholy hell out of him right in the middle of Jr Sunday school singing time, and after refused to sing again until the nearing the end of my ninth grade year.

     I knew well the saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me", but say it all I wanted, the damage had been done.  Those two little kids grew up to be great people, and are good friends of mine today, but just as they, innocent, unthinking children with only words as their weapons were able to turn my tender life upside down, so can any of us without intending, cause pain and suffering that is difficult to overcome.
     I wonder how many times I've done similarly, and shudder to think of the price that had to be paid by others because of my thoughtlessness.  The older I get, the less tolerance I have for meanness, in fact, I am convinced that when we are brought before Jesus Christ to account for our lives, ...we will be judged more by the way we have treated our fellow human beings, than any other single thing besides our attitude toward God.  When you think about it though, the two attitudes go hand in hand, ...if we truly love God, then we will naturally treat his other children kindly.

     "The first great commandment... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," ...and the second is like unto it, Though shalt love thy neighbor as thy self." 
     My heart and boundless respect goes out to those in this world who understand and truly live these commandments.  We see them stopping roadside to help a stranded traveler, giving to the beggars and street peddlers, conversing with the "slightly off" co worker in the office, giving a hand up to the fallen combatant on the field of play, looking in on widows, elderly, hospital bound and poor.  Most often we don't see such people, but they're out there, ...the world is full of them.  I know because I have seen and felt their kindnesses toward me and loved ones close to me.

     God bless you and yours, for the kindness you show, ...and as we reflect on the example of him who we revere as Lord and Savior, may we resolve to do a little more to be like Him in the coming year.

Happy Easter

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