He’s only 10. He’s not a threat. He’s rather ordinary, but the girls in eighth grade who ride his bus target him as the object of their ridicule. Day after day, they humiliate and torment him, and there’s no one to care. The school is contacted but nothing changes. The boy cries, inside and out, his agony overtaking him.
Then one day, right about the time people out there are celebrating God’s love come down, talking about Advent, and the visit of an advocate from heaven, a new ninth-grade girl moves to the area and starts riding his bus. She sees the cruelty of her peers. She doesn’t care much about impressing them. But she becomes outraged, incensed with their behavior.
She is moved with compassion for him and comes to sit with him in his misery, right beside him, on his seat on the bus. She associates with him, the outcast. She smiles at him and identifies with his suffering. At Christmas time, the greatest gift appears in the most unlikely forms, the shape of his tormentors.
And the unthinkable happens.
The girls who had picked on him begin to ridicule the new girl and punish her for showing him kindness. They tell her she’s ugly. This one, who is beautiful like an angel. But she is unflinching, unmoving. She stays by his side taking his pain, absorbing the blows. And the faces of the tormentors contort with rage, their mouths spewing out hatred. The angel girl, the one surely sent down, begins to laugh.
She looks on at the ridiculous, outrageous scenario, the mean girls angry at kindness, and she laughs. She laughs and laughs, inflaming the bullies even more until one of the girls grabs the heaven-sent one by her long beautiful hair, and bangs her head against the bus window. Over and over they hurt her for loving him and he is as helpless to save her as he was to help himself. Is there a God anywhere to stop the injustice? Even his savior is subject to this evil?
At this very moment, the principal of the school walks by the school bus window. She sees the abuse and rushes to help.
Finally, the boy is heard. After months of humiliation and scorn, someone listens. In fact, it really does seem that God has listened, as though He heard his cries and sent a representative of Himself to hurt alongside him and bring a rescue. It sounds a great deal like the Christmas story itself.
This encounter happened yesterday in our neighborhood, and is the greatest Advent experience of the season for me. It is the most picturesque. My niece, Eden, is the one putting on the Christmas robe, playing the role of the suffering, humble Savior, loving the outcast, defending the weak. Her example of love has brought Christmas down to me.
UPDATE: Christmas keeps coming down, falling like love. The mother of the angel-girl lives with her daughter, and knows too well that she is very human. Mom cheers her compassion for the boy, but is concerned for the hostile relationship between her daughter and the angry girls. She pleads with her daughter to consider their struggles, to see them as needing love every bit as much as the boy.
The daughter considers this as she enters her home after school. She reaches for the door, and hears the taunting girls behind her: “You’d better go home! You better run!” She whirls around to face them. They throw down their backpacks, readying for a fight.
She looks into their angry faces and says, “I want to apologize.”
The girls’ jaws drop so low, they nearly make contact with the backpacks on the sidewalk. “What?”! They demand an explanation.
“I was really mad at what you were doing to that boy on the bus, but that didn’t give me any right to call you animals. You’re people with feelings too,” said the very human, heaven-sent one.
The girls answered, talking together at once. “It’s okay. We’re sorry too. Maybe we could be friends? You seem like a really cool girl.”
And today, the one “giving” Christmas, received a Christmas present from an apparent former enemy, because she “looks like a princess.” Pink lipstick.
This is what Jesus living in us is meant to do. Love the unlovable. Pierce the darkness of hatred with the blinding light of love.