My Still, Small Voice is a Gentle Bully

Lin Cochran Burgin
Jun 26 · 4 min read
Pixabay Public Domain Pictures — edited by author

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Excuse me?

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Pardon me, but have you met my neighbor?

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Maybe you’d better define neighbor.

One who is near.

Maybe you’d better define near.

Close with respect to connection.

That covers a lot of territory. And people. Would you care to elaborate?

Love those who are in physical, mental, and spiritual proximity to you.


Nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.

I don’t mean to argue, but I can think of a few people who are pretty tough to love.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Yeah, uh, you said that. I’m wondering why you brought it up.

You’ve been acting like a jerk.

Define jerk.

A stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.

I resent ineffectual.

You would.

Then toward whom am I acting like a jerk?

For starters, your boss.

Surely you jest. My boss is a nincompoop. He’s a brain-dead social reject who’s had a personality bypass. A cretin. A witless, fat-headed moron. A…

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Love this guy? Nobody could love this guy, not even his mother! He’s a total creep. He walks around like a zombie and never speaks to anybody except to criticize. He’s never said anything good about anybody in his life. He…

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

I could never love this guy. I can’t even like him.

The commandment is not to like. You’re not here to learn to like. Like has nothing to do with love.

Maybe you’d better define love.

Love: to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Oh, yeah? Well, I’d like to do unto him before…

What would you want him to do unto you?

Well, I’d like for him to smile once in a while. And speak to me when he walks past.

Do you smile at him and speak?

Are you kidding? I’d rip out my tongue before I gave him the satisfaction.

Would it give him satisfaction for you to smile and speak?

How do I know? I don’t know what he thinks. I’ve never thought about it.

Would you care to think about it now?

Not especially.

Would you try?

Give me one reason why I should.

Give me one reason why you shouldn’t.

How about because I don’t want to.

That won’t wash. You’re thinking about it now. It’s bothering you.

No, it isn’t.

Denying that it’s bothering you and repressing your feelings is making you behave like a jerk whenever he walks by.

I’d like to stick out my foot and trip him.

That’s the first honest thing you’ve said. Why do you want to trip him?

To get his attention.

Does it hurt your feelings that he ignores you?

Heck, no. I don’t need him.

Are you sure? How about his approval? Doesn't his behavior remind you of being ignored by your teachers? Remember how that hurt?

I haven’t thought about that in years. I guess I buried the memory. Now it seems he’s dug it up.

That’s the way it works.

That’s the way what works?

Learning to love thy neighbor as thyself. One plants the seeds of need — in this case, it was your teachers. Another waters them — in this case, your boss. Now you are harvesting a crop of anger, rebellion, denial, and avoidance.

Avoidance, how?

Don’t you avoid his very eyes? Don’t you avoid any contact with him at all? Haven't you avoided thinking about this? I guess you are showing him how much you don’t need his approval. Right?

So how am I supposed to love him?

By recognizing that he has shown you something about yourself you needed to see — your need for approval. You’d love yourself more if you could get rid of it. You might even try saying thanks to him.

I don’t think I’m ready to go that far.

Saying hello tomorrow morning would be a start.

I could try. By the way, you said my boss was “for starters.” Whom else am I treating like a jerk?


This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family and fun.

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Lin Cochran Burgin

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A lifelong researcher, now focus on biblical mysteries. So much to write about, so little time.



Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.