Early in the school year, Sawyer told me that there was a bully in his class. He told me she said really mean things to the other kids and made them cry. I asked him what he felt he should do about it. He answered, “I’m just going to be friends with every person she’s mean to.” My heart burst with pride, and I told him that was a good idea.
Over the next several weeks, three different mamas found me at pick up time to tell me that Sawyer was the nicest little boy. He had befriended their children when they were feeling picked on. They thanked me for raising a young man who knew how to be such a good friend. I was so proud of Sawyer, I cried.
About a month ago, Sawyer told me he was worried about the “bully.” When I asked him why, he said, “She doesn’t have any friends, Mama.”
“Well, that’s what happens when you’re not nice to others,” I pointed out, thankful he was seeing this example of natural justice.
He was quiet for awhile and then piped up with, “Yeah, but I think she just doesn’t know how to be a friend. Maybe I need to be really nice to her, so that she knows how to be nice.”
Humbled, I answered, “I think that’s a wonderful idea, my love.”
When I went to pick Sawyer up last week, the “bully” gave Sawyer a huge hug and said, “Bye, Sawyer!” before heading home with her mama.
As we walked to the car, I asked Sawyer how he had become friends with the girl who had been being so mean to everyone.
He answered matter of factly, “I just kept being really nice to her until she couldn’t help but be my friend.”
This boy teaches me so much about Jesus. He rises to the defense of the oppressed, but he also loves his enemies. Sometimes Jesus’s instruction to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) feels pretty removed from our daily lives. In my life context, there aren’t very many identifiable enemies. In Jesus’s time, the enemies were more obvious. This didn’t make his instruction any easier to follow back then, but perhaps it was more simple to see who he was talking about. Sawyer is showing me that to love my enemies, I need to remember to love people, not because of how they treat me, but because they are image-bearers of our God. I need to love people so extravagantly and consistently that they can’t help feeling loved. That kind of love changes other people and me. That kind of love reflects the Jesus we follow.