On February 4th I got to witness what some would call a miracle in Washington D.C. More than 4,000 people from 130 different countries descended on our nation’s capital for the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast.
What was the miracle you ask?
It wasn’t the number of people in attendance, or the purpose of the event. The miracle was who pulled it off: Robert B. Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama, and Juan “Paco” Vargas, a Democrat from California.
Yes, a Republican congressman from Alabama and a Democratic congressman from California.
These two men couldn’t be from more different places.
They admit they often disagree on policy, but they nearly always agree on prayer. In fact, they agree so much on prayer that every Wednesday morning that’s what they do together.
Robert and Paco, along with many other members of Congress drop their party affiliations at the door and share friendship at the breakfast table. They pray for each other, share life stories and focus on the teachings of Jesus.
In short, these men and women from Congress who often disagree with each other on the house floor, have found a way to love each other around the breakfast table.
My experience in Washington D.C. caused me to ask my girls some questions this morning on the way to our annual Daddy/Daughter Valentine’s day breakfast. #WaffleHouse
“Hey girls, what is Valentines Day about?” I asked.
One girl said, “St. Valentine!”
Another girl yelled, “Jesus!”
The last girl said, “Love!”
I came back with, “Great answers, girls. Who are we supposed to love?” And mostly in unison they replied “Everyone!”
“Yeah, but what about people we don’t agree with? Do we love them, too?” I asked.
In the rhythm of a whack-a-mole game I heard, “Yes, Yes, Yes!”
“So how can we love them?” I asked.
First I heard “Pray for them.”
Next was, “Give them a hug.”
Lastly I heard, “Love them more.”
“Love, Prayer, and Hugs.”
I felt real joy as I gathered around the breakfast table with those girls. They get it. They really get it. And it took me to one the clearest teachings of Jesus;
“You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
The world tells us to put down, push down, demean or ignore the people we don’t agree with. We don’t have to agree with every policy, view, value, or religious tradition someone holds in order to love them.
If a bunch of politicians in D.C. can love each other when they don’t agree, and if some little girls in Tennessee think we should love each other when we don’t agree, then maybe it can really be done. I might be a little partial but I think the girls came up with some pretty good advice.
“Love them, pray for them, give hugs.”
Our kids listen to everything we say and they watch everything we do. I am a dad of four kids, and when I say they listen to everything, I mean EVERYTHING. We are teaching them how to love even when we don’t know it.
What if we gave more hugs and less criticisms? What if there was more prayer and less judgment? What if we offered more love and less hate?
- When is the last time you talked with your kids about how to love the people you don’t agree with? Do it today.
- When is the last time you prayed with your child for an “enemy” at school or on TV? Do it today.
- When is the last time you chose to give that family member, co-worker, or frustrating person in your life a hug? Do it this week.