Showing love when it’s hard

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

By Tonya S. Swindell

The Bible says, “owe no man nothing but to love him.” I often questioned how to carry out that verse in everyday life, especially after feeling hurt or mistreated. Now I find it useful to examine the lives of people who endured extreme circumstances but continued to show love.

During the 1950s and ‘60s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the African-American leader of a national movement for freedom, justice and equality. Despite his dedication to nonviolence, he was threatened, beaten and imprisoned many times. He also suffered mistreatment by people from whom he least expected it.

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In 1958, while signing books in Harlem, Dr. King was stabbed in the chest by an African-American woman, after which he almost lost his life. Approximately nine years later, he reaffirmed his commitment to compassion, saying, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

While reflecting, a staff member of the King Center wrote, “…we may have been mistreated … even by the very ones who are closest to us and are supposed to love us. As a result, we may feel justified in holding grudges, disliking … even hating; however, in doing so we are ultimately harming ourselves, because this will become a cancer and in holding on to it we allow it to grow and fester, and ultimately it changes who we are…” Dr. King eventually lost his life at the hands of a white gunman in 1968.

Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins, chronicled their own story of reconciliation in a book titled “Convicted,” which they co-authored. Their experience began in 2006 when McGee, a black man, was framed and put in prison because of false drug charges created by Collins, a white police officer. Once authorities discovered Collins’ unethical behavior, he was also sent to prison.

According to Doug Livingston of The Beacon Journal, McGee commented: “[The hate] had messed me up for a while … God told me: ‘I got this fight. Give it up.’”

Collins remarked about the story’s potential impact, saying: “I hope it gives somebody hope … They may not be a dirty cop. But they’re doing something that they know they didn’t set out in life to do. There’s still hope for them. There’s still hope for the future. This isn’t who you have to be…”

Jesus said, “With men things are impossible, but with God all things are possible.” He also commanded: “Love others as I have loved you.” Words of Jesus and redemptive stories of people like Dr. King, McGee and Collins, offer clearer understanding of what love means.

And 1 Corinthians 13 tells me “…Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.