“He just needs love.”
This was my mom’s answer whenever I complained about an unruly child I was babysitting. It was also the answer when she was teaching Sunday school and a kid would refuse to listen to her instructions or participate in class. She would pour warmth, encouragement, and affirmation into a classmate who always struggled to behave. I still remember fondly her saying, “If Johnny brings matches one more time, I think I’ll have to tell the principal.”
Love. Love was always the answer. She always had a soft spot for the wounded (and still does). For the kid who didn’t have a loving mother. For the boy who always gave anger in exchange for gentleness. She was always so patient. Always so forgiving. She could somehow always see past the misbehavior and look at the young, hurt heart that was producing it.
We all just need love.
We all have a desire to be cherished. To be thought of and held dear. Don’t we all want someone to wrap us in a hug when just a moment before we shot darts of bitterness and anger at them?
We are all, at one time or another, a troubled little boy who likes to light things on fire during Sunday school. We are hurt. We are wounded. We’ve felt neglected by other people or haven’t tasted what unconditional love is. We don’t know how to love others well, and we haven’t figured out how to accept love.
I remember the moment when I realized it didn’t matter what I did, that God would always love me. I was young and often fearful of doing the wrong thing – of doing the “final straw” and God would sigh sadly and say I blew it.
But He never does. He never gets tired of our inability to see what’s right before us. He’ll never call the principal in on us. And as we draw closer to Him and allow His unconditional love to settle on us in a deep and lasting way, we’ll realize we don’t need all our defense mechanisms.
And eventually…we’ll leave the matches at home.