Nothing moves me more, and I mean NOTHING, than witnessing or hearing about someone giving love when the inclination of the majority would be to do the opposite. There are a lot of examples of this all across the world, brave and kind people loving where love may not be deserved, but I'll share with you one that rocked me to my core. This is the story of the day that I sobbed like an absolute lunatic in church. Please read this to the end - I promise it's worth it.
This was several years ago. I was visiting my family in Florida and my parents, my brother and I went to my parents' church on Sunday morning. I wasn't expecting this service to be anything out of the ordinary, but it was. We watched a documentary film about a group of missionaries in the 1950s. As the film went...
Jim Elliot was among five missionaries from the United States who set out to bring Christianity to the previously uncontacted Huaorani people of the rainforest of Ecuador, an isolated tribe known for their violence. It was known as Operation Auca ("savages"). For several months the missionaries dropped gifts, and then set up a camp near the tribe settlements on January 3, 1956. Just five days later, after a few peaceful visits with some of the tribespeople, all five missionaries were attacked and speared by a group of the tribe warriors. Jim had at home a wife and a ten month old daughter, and the others had families as well.
At this point I was absolutely emotionally involved in the story. Sitting in a row with my family, the people who mean the most to me in this world, I couldn't imagine the horror and devastation if something like that had happened to one of them. Then the movie went on...
Jim's wife Elisabeth later went to live with the Huaorani tribe in 1958 along with their now three year old daughter and Rachel Saint, the sister of another of the murdered missionaries.
You guys. They went there, to the place where their loved ones were killed, to show love to the people who had killed them.
This is not how I would have handled the situation, I'm quite sure. At this point I was so shocked and in absolute awe of how these women saw outside of themselves and their own grief, and at their mission of love, that I was ugly crying while the film was still playing. I'm sure that my family was more than a little embarrassed by the slobbering, blubbering mess that I was. I'm getting chocked up now, just writing this.
When someone teased my brother on the playground when we weren't even yet in kindergarten, I dumped sand over the kid's head. When someone speaks a mean word to or about one of my friends, I imagine (though don't ever carry out) exquisite revenge. Yet these women lost a brother and a husband and they spent years working toward being able to show those people love.
I can't fathom it.
Undeniably, that is God's love. It isn't our own. Our own is flawed beyond repair. His is great beyond comprehension.
I was reminded of this story while watching last week's Grey's Anatomy, when Dr. Bailey immediately begins referring to her brother-in-law as "she" upon finding out that he (she!) had chosen to transition. She wasn't saying anything about her ability to understand (her approval wasn't required, her opinion irrelevant, anyway) but she chose to show love where others often don't.
No matter your beliefs or your ability to forgive/understand/agree, be the one who shows love when other people won't.
So what happened when the women returned? As a result, many of the tribespeople, including some who had murdered the missionaries, became Christians. Steve Saint, older son to one of the men, was eventually baptized by the very man who killed his father.