The Root of Meanness

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Yesterday I finally got rid of a migraine that had lasted for three days. The weather has gone from sunny to stormy pretty quickly the last couple of days, and the changing barometer nearly always causes a migraine.  I felt really crummy because the weather was making my arthritis in my knees act up, too. Three days of pain will make you pretty cranky.

And I didn’t deal with that crankiness well. On Sunday, I took it out on my husband. I snapped his head off a number of times. Yesterday morning, I all but told my kids to get lost.

You see, pain can make you act in ways that you don’t normally act. When the pain gets intolerable it can make you lash out at those around you. It can make you mean and cranky.

And sometimes we forget that. We forget that pain — physical or emotional — can overwhelm a person to the point where they push away the people who are most likely to help. It can be so all-consuming that in an attempt to make themselves feel better, a person can be mean and cranky.

It’s important that we teach our kids that most of the time people who are mean and cranky are hiding pain of some kind. Those actions and words that hurt others are often rooted in pain of their own.

Our kids are going to encounter other kids who say mean things. Our kids are going to come up against adults who aren’t very nice. We need to be teaching our kids to view those people with compassion and to not return mean words or actions with more of the same.

When our kids run up against a bully or if one of their friends are being mean, we need to remind our kids that those mean words or actions are probably rooted in some kind of hurt in that person’s life. We need to remind our kids that hurting people deserve our love and compassion. We need to help our kids understand that pain can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do.

Because that’s how Jesus treats hurting people. When Jesus was confronted with people who lashed out at Him, He responded with love. He willingly placed himself in the hands of people who wanted to kill Him because He loved all of us hurting people. He understood that the desire to hurt Him didn’t come out of simple meanness, it came out of the hurt and emptiness of a life separated from God. And His response was to bridge that gap with love.

So, the next time you or your kids are faced with hurtful actions or words from another person, look beyond the actions. Remind yourself and your kids that you don’t know the hurt that person is facing. You don’t know their pain. Think of ways that you and your kids can respond in love and compassion. Because that’s what Jesus did for us.

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