Last night I saw a movie. It wasn't very good. In one scene, a girl is unhappy because a guy she likes (and who used to like her) is calling her humiliating, embarrassing names in front of everybody.
Two people give the girl advice on how to handle the situation. The first one says she should just ignore the guy, treating him like he's so low he's not worth caring about anyway. The other person says she should cruelly insult him back, in front of everybody, and lie about having a new, better boyfriend who's older.
Do you think that any of this is good advice?
Even if she gets him to stop insulting her, I still think both plans are bad ways to handle this kind of situation. You know why? For one thing, they sure won't help the boy and girl stay friends. For another, either method will probably leave both of them feeling rotten.
Sure, maybe for a minute the girl would feel good. She might look brave or confident when she ignored or insulted him. But that would not last.
So what can she do? Is there a way for both of them to start feeling good about themselves again - and still stay friends?
Yes. It will take courage. It will take strength. It will take some growing up. But the girl can forgive the guy. She can even love him - maybe not as a boyfriend. But as a brother. As a "child" of God.
How do you do this when someone is saying nasty things about you or to you? By turning to God with all you've got. You can do it mentally (with your thoughts instead of your mouth). You can choose not to react to meanness with anger or even hurt feelings. Instead you can choose to express your very best qualities - love, forgiveness, patience. Another way of saying this is choosing to be Christian.
Jesus was a great example of someone who did this. He even loved people who were hateful. He said to some people he was teaching, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another" (John 15:12). Earlier, he'd taught them, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). And he practiced what he preached. He even forgave people who came to put him to death.
Did that make him stupid? No. It made him able to help and heal people - lots of people.
Being Christian doesn't mean letting people push you around. It really means exercising God's power. It means you can get into a statement like this one: "My weary hope tries to realize that happy day, when man shall recognize the Science of Christ and love his neighbor as himself, - when he shall realize God's omnipotence and the healing power of the divine Love in what it has done and is doing for mankind" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 55).
Understanding the fact that God is Love - that's spiritual understanding. That's what brings help to all different kinds of bad situations. Even ones where people are insulting you.
God gives all of us the good qualities we need, and the good thoughts we need, to turn the situation around. God has created you to express the powerful love that lets you actually start seeing a good person right where a mean person seems to be. Lots of times, that's when the insults stop and everyone stays friends. But however it works out, as you ask God how to love other people in a Christian way, you feel peaceful.
Maybe most important, you feel better about yourself because you're gaining some new view of who we all are as children of God. Children of divine Love.
Now, that sounds like a good plan. I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven.... If you greet only your friends, what's so great about that?... You must always act like your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:44, 45, 47, 48
(Contemporary English Version)