Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Web of Love

They sat in a circle, blissfully unaware of what was in store for them. He stood in the center of the circle, the beloved teacher who, along with 10 other faculty members, was responsible for making memories for this group of high school seniors. He handed a ball of yarn to the senior class president as he told the class how as a senior class sponsor he had come to respect the leadership that this young man provided. He then challenged that young man to share the love.

Accepting the challenge, the senior class president scanned the faces around the circle, held on to the end of the yarn then tossed the ball of yarn across the room to another student. He then proceeded to tell the class why he admired that student. The second student then held on to his end of the yarn and tossed the ball of yarn to another student.

One by one, each student listened with rapt attention as someone else sang his or her praises. As the evening wore and the yarn was tossed from one student to another, it created a web of yarn between them, which we call the web of love.

Eventually, the yarn ran out. There was a moment of silence, then someone said, “Let’s keep going,” and they did. What was interesting to me as I witnessed this outpouring of love was the recurring theme. It went something like this, “Johnny, you and I have known each other since 9th grade, and I’ll have to admit, I didn’t like you when I first met you. But we’ve had some classes together this year, and this is the first chance we’ve really had to talk. I just wanted you to know that I think you’re cool, man. You’re real, and I respect that.”

After hearing some version of that theme over and over, I thought about what they were really saying. “Ok, my first impression of you wasn’t a good one and wasn’t necessarily based on you at all, but on my perceptions about you. After a few years, I decided to give you a chance. I took the time to get to know you and realized how wrong I was about you. In fact, I like you just the way you are.”

I wonder how often I do that. How often is my first impression of someone negative and based totally on my misperceptions of them because I don’t really know them? How many times have I begun to really like or respect someone once I got to know them?

“Get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

I Peter 2:1-3