Here’s the song reference.
I have been genuinely appalled at the tone of our national discourse for some time. There is so much dehumanizing language being flung about that it’s nearly impossible to listen to, or read, any public conversation without being hit in the head with some nasty epithet or other. Because of this apparent degeneration in the way we relate to one another, I’ve become very determined to teach my children early and often to see every person they meet as another child of God first, to find common ground with every human being they encounter, and to hold fast to those commonalities when people’s behavior becomes unlovable. It is a difficult thing to learn, and an even more difficult one to teach.
As it happens, one of Bugaboo’s assignments today was in her God and Me! devotional, a book I heartily recommend. The title of the lesson was “Be Receptive,” and opened with Romans 14:10. We talk a lot around here about how only Jesus Christ can judge a soul, and we are called to love everyone, because none of us are sinless; while some behaviors are unacceptable, we are never to indulge in hatred against our brothers and sisters, and are always to remember that Christ came for all of us.
Bugaboo loves her devotional, because it has lots of nifty crafts and projects in it, and she enjoys the stories, too. She and I both particularly enjoyed this passage, found on page 36: “People, like snowflakes, can look the same, too. It’s easy to lump people together into groups, especially when you think they’re different from you. However, when you look closely at each person, you’ll find that people are different and special in their own ways — just like snowflakes.”
After we read, we did the little project (dripping candle wax into ice water to make “snowflakes,” and observing that no two were exactly alike, but all had something in common), and prayed the prayer at the end, to wit: “God, help me to be receptive to all of the different and special people you send my way.” A flash of inspiration hit me at that point, and I grabbed the ads from Sunday’s newspaper, quickly spreading them out on the table in front of a wondering Bugaboo. I pointed to the people in the advertisements, and asked her, about each one, “What do you have in common with this person? What about this person is the same as something about you?”
She lit up with excitement, her voice rising as she found that this man was wearing black pants like hers, this lady had brown eyes like hers, this boy liked Spider-Man like she does, this girl had a beaded necklace like hers. It was that beautiful moment of clarity when I realized she understood, because after the third person, she stopped pointing out all of the superficial differences and started paying attention to the similarities. Still superficial similarities, yes, but enough for even a five-year-old girl to understand that she can find some commonality between herself and anyone she meets. When stymied by one particular picture of a man, she said, “Well, he’s a person, and I’m a person, and that’s how we’re alike.”
Now if I can get her to bear that in mind when she starts taking an interest in politics, it will have been a mighty lesson, indeed.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for a daughter who understands that, in the end, we are all Yours and precious in Your sight. Thank You for the ability to love even those who speak harsh and ugly words, and for the strength to call ugliness what it is. Please, Lord, grant me the grace and wisdom to always see Your children first as Your children, and to pray without ceasing for those whose hearts and minds are so twisted by hatred and covetousness towards those who differ from them. Help me teach Your blessings that You never resorted to profane insults or wishing harm to those who did not believe in You; rather, You begged Your Father to forgive them. And Father, please help me remember the wisdom shared by a friend today — that no disagreement over politics is worth the love of a friend. Help me set an example with my own language of how friends should speak to one another.