Those People

7:30 AM

We called him Napoleon. To tell the truth, he kind of was. Working four days at campaign headquarters with a ten minute water and chili break for lunch wasn't always a walk in the park. But at least if you got yelled at by the 212th person you called, there was always a buddy beside you to roll his eyes and offer you some more sour cream and onion chips. You got approval from that end.

But from Napoleon, the campaign mastermind? Nothing. He bossed people around. He was fussy like that. The college students, the nice lady who drove our white van, my fellow teenagers, they all couldn't stand him. We got back at the hotel each night with individual Napoleon Tales. Our leaders clashed with him all the time. With good reason. He thought only of himself and The Way It Was Supposed To Be - not the tired troops trudging behind him.

I got sick one night at headquarters while the football game was on and the pizza had arrived. I was just standing there, feeling miserable, waiting for my leaders to grab the keys to the white van, and he told me to get back to a phone. I stared at him stupidly and said nothing. My leaders rescued me from that potentially dangerous situation.

Frankly, he wasn't the kind of guy you'd ask out for coffee on a random Saturday. Despite being dark and massively handsome (and dressed in a sweater vest and tie). Girls, remember this when you drool over good looks in your special What He Must Be List.

Even so, I felt sorry for him, punted out of the social circle as he was. Come to think of it, he become very solicitous when he found out I was truly sick and not loitering. The littlest nice thing surprised him. We had cake to celebrate our awesome leaders (my brainchild/excuse to get out of phone banking for a Walmart run) and we gave him the first piece. He was speechless. Literally so.

I stuck up for him when people got on his case: "He probably just needs a hug. And he isn't that mean."

And he wasn't. I do not know whether his bossiness came as a result of rejection or resulted in rejection, but to me, he was too insecure to be truly arrogant and pig-headed. All bark and no bite, if you know what I mean. A campaign leader stopped to talk to him - or rather, listen to him - and she (being a mother) found out all about him being fresh out of college, a little bit more of who he was like, apart from the Napoleonic stereotype.

There's always going to be some people out there. Those people. The jerks, the idiots, the rebels, the annoyers, the grumps, the parasites. We think we've got them in the bag: run away from them, stuff them into negativity and oblivion, put your fingers in your ears until they go away so you can gossip about how much they get on your nerves.

Why is it that we serve scorn to the people who need love most?

The day of freedom came when we were normal kids and not superhero campaigners. That last day, I went up to Napoleon, the one everybody said was arrogant and rude and bossy. I thanked him, simply, sincerely, for letting a bunch of kids help out on the campaign. He didn't look me in the eye. He didn't know how to take the thanks. Me, just a little nobody - he didn't have the bravado to snobbishly say, "Yeah, no problem." No tough guy act here. He was a puddle of excited half-hope, boyishly peeking out from behind his insecurity.

I've never forgotten that. It got me thinking. I really don't think Napoleon planned, while brushing his teeth, to torture his campaign workers each day. I think he needed affirmation, and lots of it. And since nobody gave it readily, he stuck with going by the book, with going to the highest limit, with making his headquarters look the best...just so he could have some tangible evidence to prove he wasn't as vulnerable as his insecurity made him out to be.

I've worked with "bad" people. I've loved on unloved kids. I've befriended rebels. I've been one myself. I know what it's like to be that person. The people hardest loving are the people who need love most.

Got a Napoleon in your life? Dish him up grace and acceptance by the bucket loads. You never know how different a life can be until you change it.

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8 impressions

  1. I remember once when a young woman came to visit church years ago (one town and one church ago for me!). She came with her boyfriend, a young man of ill-repute in our youth group. She looked different, dressed different, and (honestly) stuck out like a sore thumb in our little church. Two of my friends were standing near me, spouting opinions about her, one Sunday morning. I didn't know the young lady personally, so I told my friends, kindly, that we shouldn't be bad-mouthing her. I can still remember how her face lit up when I met her gaze and gave her a friendly smile. It was like looking at a new person entirely.

    So many people just need to be shown love... its sad how we, the people that have experienced the marvelous love of God, are usually the first ones to turn our nose up at those who need that love so desperately.

    Wonderful post, Bailey! Keep up the great writing!

    In Christ,
    Rachel

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  2. Rachel, that's beautiful. I know I've been rejected -- or kind of looked at askance -- for being more "different" (and therefore probably rabidly judgmental), and the friendly smile of an insider made my day. So it's important to be like you -- accepting and loving the person whatever she looks like...especially if she doesn't look like us.

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  3. Great thoughts here. I don't really have anything to add, except that it's lessons like these I enjoy learning from the Lord. (Of course, the learning part isn't as enjoyable, but the end result is good.)

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  4. Remember when you called me while campaigning? "Hello, Mrs. Green, I'm calling on behalf of Reid Ribble's office (or some such thing)...."

    Me ~ "Is this *Bailey*?!"

    How cool was that?! = )

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  5. Jenny -- that totally made my entire week. :o)

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  6. Wow, thanks for this reminder. It's so important to accept and love people for who they are.

    My siblings might of thought I was a little strange, but at a church we were visiting last night, I gave a little boy (with Down Syndrome) a big hug, :)

    ~Rachel

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  7. Hi Bailey!

    I'm not sure if you accept blog awards, but if you do, there are two little somethings waiting for you on my blog (Julia's Journal). :)

    Have a blessed day!
    Julia

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  8. That's so sweet. Your writing flows beautifully, and that was such a touching story! Thanks for posting it. :)

    - Victoria

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