The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-charge Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

People sometimes "act out" and are unkind to one another. There may be many reasons for this, including the possibility that the one acting out may be starved for love. Not understanding how to engage in loving relationships for lack of love, they seek attention from others in hurtful ways to assert their identity. Some become bullies. The sorrow of the unloved child is seen on playgrounds with squabbles. Even unloved adults with social skills can slip into a negative mode, perhaps by interrupting a speaker to assert that their own point of view is the only correct solution to a problem. One cause for this outburst is a lack of personal self-esteem, unresolved trauma from childhood, or an interior life of loneliness resulting from a lack of being loved.

I once knew a middle aged man who told me that he didn't know what love is. He had managed to do well in life but had not experienced being loved by family and acquaintances. I felt sorry for him and knew that the only way for him to understand love was to be loved. Sometimes unloved people become unlovable because they don't have a natural way to be kind or to relate to people in positive ways. But if a loving person sees more in the unlovable one than what that person sees, a loving relationship can begin. Being loved can bring out the love potential within the other person.

Children who learn to receive love become lovers themselves. I discovered this as a child when a student picked on me. Coming from a home of pacifists I resisted responding with anger and was as gentle and kind to him as I could. As it happened, he stopped picking on me and invited me to his home. This was a kindness on his part that may have been unfamiliar. His family was extremely poor with at least three people sleeping together in the same bed. It appeared that each member of the family had to fend for him or her self. I am grateful that I was taught to see more in him than he saw in himself. We became casual friends.

A natural tendency in dealing with difficult people is to stay away. One can look on them, however, with compassion rather than condemnation. Discover the cause of their problem which may include a lack of being loved.

Love itself is the real solution to this problem. Learn to see others as God sees them. Learn to love them as God loves them. The result may be love for each other, and increase love for the author of Love, God.