We all tell ourselves stories. We take the information given to us, fill in the blanks, and write a mental narrative to make sense of our life.
But do you ever think to yourself, Is the story I’m telling myself true?
Or, Do facts back up the storyline I play in my head?
Anti-Semitism is at its highest in decades. It makes me wonder what narrative is playing in someone’s mind to produce such hate.
Earlier this month, a tall figure wearing a black coat and hat walked down a Brooklyn street. It was clear he was an observant Jewish man by the clothes he was wearing.
Out of nowhere a secular young man ran up behind and punched the Orthodox man in the back of the head, sending his kippah and hat flying into the air. The Jewish man staggered, and the assailant fled on foot in the opposite direction.
What would cause such a random act of violence?
The Hebrew Bible describes this kind of behavior as “sinat khinam” or in English “baseless hatred” (Psalm 69:4).
Basically, it is hatred without cause.
We can’t assume the motive behind the attack for sure, but the racial slurs erupting from the assailant’s mouth lead us to believe this was not a personal vendetta. Rather, he is an anti-Semite. His hatred of the Jewish people led him to act in such a deplorable way.
Where does this “sinat chinam” or “baseless hatred” enter into a human’s mental narrative?
Is it ingrained from birth?
Is it taught at young age (i.e., “survival of the fittest”)?
Is it behavior based on hate fueled over a lifetime?
My humble opinion is: Yes – all of the above.
When my children were little it astonished me that no one had to teach them how to lie, steal, or hate. I thought that by being a good example of right living, they would be influenced to do good.
My modeling played a crucial role, in part. But no one can remove the sin from a little one’s heart by only demonstrating correct behavior. Innate sinfulness needs complete cleansing from an external holy power.
In real life, little hands had come running to me, flailing . . . tears streaming down the sweet six-year-old’s cheeks.
“He HIT me!!!”
Oh boy . . . another assault in the timeline of childhood – and another teaching opportunity!
This time it is the little brother who attacked. His face is red with embarrassment and anger. Even a three-year-old lashes out, filling in the blanks for a sister’s motives.
After hearing both sides of the story, heavenly wisdom enters my mind. Taking his little hands into mine, I ask; “Son, what did God make your hands for?”
“To play guitar!” he smiles.
He proceeds to convey all the fun and creative things for which God made his little hands.
“Did God make your hands for hitting?” I query.
His bright blue eyes flicker at the thought. A slow shake of his head “no” in regret.
As adults we must remember the foundation of our story. God created with a purpose. No one is excluded.
The Jewish people were created by God, for God.
If I look at my Jewish or Gentile neighbor (or my sister, brother, or spouse) in light of the eternal God who planned their existence and purpose, it will change my storyline.
When God “fills in the blanks” for us, there is no room to “write in” hate.
This takes humility on our part. We have to accept His ways and make room in our heart for His transformation.
No wonder Jesus said: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
Taking story-writing into our own hands can allow hatred, bitterness or judgmental mindsets to cloud reality. But surrendering to the eternal Almighty Storyteller benefits not only our own lives, but those around us.