I Tried to Treat Him Like a Human Being

Ashley_smith2_3She has been interviewed and quoted.  Rightly so.  The story of Ashley Smith, the 26 year old widow and mother, is incredible.   She was held hostage through the night by a fugitive, Brian Nichols.

Nichols had been on trial in Atlanta for rape.  That morning, he had overpowered a Sheriff’s deputy and took her gun.  He shot and killed four people and then escaped.  That night, he spent an incredible seven hours with Ashley Smith, who he had approached at gun point.

I wrote about this in my last post.  However, I’ve been thinking a more about what she said and did.  I have seen several interviews.  I read the transcript of her testimony when she met with reporters at her lawyer’s office.  (It is contained in this excellent article by Peggy Noonan).

Something that impressed me…

She said that she tried to treat him like a human being.  She talked with him about God and his purpose in life.  She spoke about her experiences (she had been in trouble with the law as a teenager) and her husband’s death (murdered).  Yes, she was direct at times.  She talked to him about how the families of those who he killed might be feeling.  Smith even showed Nichols her husband’s autopsy report. "That’s what a lot of people will have to go through now, because of what you’ve done," she told him. "You need to turn yourself in. No one else needs to die, and you’re going to die if you don’t."   Maybe it was because of the way she treated him.  Anyway, he listened.

Jesus seemed to always talk with people like each one really mattered.  After all, each person, no matter what he/she has done, has been created in the image of God.  He could treat a woman caught in adultery like "a human being" and yet tell her to leave that lifestyle (John 8:1ff.).

This makes me think.

I think about all of the people who have talked with through the years. One of the real pleasures of being a minister is getting to talk to a lot of people about things that matter.  (I know that many other people experience this as well.  Yet, this does kind of go with the territory).  People will often tell me about their fears, their mistakes, and their sin.  People will often tell me a "secret".  Something that was done for which they are deeply ashamed and embarrassed.  Sometimes, I hear a person talk about what went on in a moment of weakness.  (I also hear a lot of wonderful, joyful stories as well.).

Just a few observations from talking with people.  (And–my own life as well).

  • Many of us want someone who will listen and then love us anyway.
  • Many of us fear rejection.  We fear that if you really knew who we are, you wouldn’t love us anymore.
  • Many of us want to trust God.  Nevertheless, our performance is never as good as what we profess.
  • Many of us want to be loved.  We want to know that there are people who will love us anyway.
  • Many of us are not always strong.  We would like to be but sometimes we are weak and inconsistent.
  • Many of us have been disappointed and hurt by some people. Yet, we still need people in our lives.

Maybe, just maybe, one of the greatest gifts that we can give another person is to just treat that person as a human being, made in the image of God.

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One thought on “I Tried to Treat Him Like a Human Being

  1. I am not surprised at Peggy Noonan’s observations. As a sppech major in college I studied quite a bit about her. She was President Reagan’s main speech writer. If you have never read some of her writings after 9/11 you ought to. She is an incredible commentator. Good to hear more good things she has written.

    Carrie Driskill