I’m a romantic. I started writing poetry in kindergarten and never stopped. I’ve always loved a good “chick flick,” and I buy my wife flowers and candles partly because I like the way they look and smell, too. (Don’t tell her.)Who can forget the way Jack embraced Rose on the prow of the Titanic? Or the remake of Romeo + Juliet, where they flirted through the glass? Swoon. Did you cry as hard as I did at the end of The Notebook?
Ugly tears, yall.
But can we talk about my favorite love story of all freaking time? Children of a Lesser God (1986) so encapsulates love that crosses even the most difficult barriers (Somebody cue “Love in Any Language”).
A hearing teacher who falls completely in love with a Deaf employee at the school where they both work. The teacher is a speech pathologist, and the employee isn’t at all interested in learning how to talk. They’re both fiery and wildly passionate about their particular views on deafness and speech, but what consumes them, even more, is their love and lust toward one another.
At the end of the movie, after loving and fighting like wild animals, James (William Hurt) signs to Sarah (Marlee Matlin), “Do you think there’s someplace where we can meet that’s not in silence and not in sound?” Oh my gosh. All the feels.
James is saying to Sarah, “I hear you.”
They have two different worldviews. Two completely different experiences. James and Sarah are from opposite sides of the tracks. They’re both strongly opinionated. And for the entirety of the movie, each of the main characters acts like closed-minded, stubborn asses. They shout and kick and throw things.
But, those three little words, “I hear you,” changes everything.
I know American politics is far from a love story. Social media can be a great place to connect, and a one hell of a place for pointless arguments. But even if you don’t like the person across the aisle or on the other side of the screen, even if you vehemently disagree with the political ideologies of your neighbors or “friends” on social media … can you hear them?
Can you slow down long enough to allow respect for the humanity of another person? Can you choose common decency over pride and ego? Can you choose silence long enough to make eye contact, remembering that at the end of the day, none of us have this thing all figured out? Can you choose to be kind, when you are dying to be right?
Can you say to them, “I hear you”?
Loving our enemies isn’t easy. It’s effing hard work. And yet, I think Jesus was acutely aware of the struggle when he commanded us to do it anyway.
Maybe you don’t feel love toward those you disagree with right now. Most of the time, I don’t either. Like, at all. But if we can just stop and hear each other, even just for a moment, we might find some common grace. We may even make a new friend, and that brings out the romantic in us all.
P.S. Have you ever met a Christian asshole? Reply in the comments, or email me directly. I’d love to hear your story.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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