We used to host 75-100 high school kids at our small house once a week. One of our neighbors in particular didn’t think this was as great as we did. Sometimes he would sit on his porch with a shot gun on Tuesday nights when kids were arriving. It was just a bb gun but as far as kids could tell he had a shot gun watching for them to step on his lawn. Eventually he sent a letter to the city detailing a number of ordinances they claimed we were breaking to try to shut us down. It wasn’t pretty.
They were friendly as long as there weren’t any high school kids coming over.
They were in their 60’s and as far as we could tell they didn’t have any kids.
We thought there must be a story behind why high school kids are so hard for them. Maybe they were never able to have kids and the sounds of teenagers causes pain? Maybe they have a broken relationship with their kids? Maybe they lost a teenager?
There is always a story behind why people are how they are.
Without fail when you get to know someone’s story you have more compassion for them.
When you understand someone’s story you are better able to love them.
People who are hurting are the most likely to be hurtful.
I never did find out what the story was behind my neighbors dislike of teenagers. I didn’t need to. My heart toward them changed as soon as I was willing to recognize that there must be something that is causing them deep hurt about teenagers which is causing them to act this way.
One step is to try to get to know people and their stories.
Better yet is to recognize that there is always a story behind why people are how they are and not require knowing that story to view them with compassion.
When I am tempted to be hurt by someone I want to remember that they are probably hurting.
If we are able to do this we simultaneously protect ourselves from being hurt and love people better. That sounds like a good combination to me.