Unexpected Love

Kyle Howell

I’m not one to get emotional…like ever. Ha! My wife jokes that I’m dead inside. But c’mon that’s a little harsh. I just don’t like to cry, or get all mushy. Maybe it’s just a caveman-like quality? I don’t know. But I’ll admit there are a few things that get me to where I have to aggressively fight back a tear from making an appearance: a kid getting surprised by their returning soldier dad, my favorite football team making an amazing come-from-behind victory to keep their playoff hopes alive, or just a great worship song to remind me just what Jesus did for me on the cross.

I read an article from the Harvard Business Review that spoke about the findings and study of the oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin is a neurochemical signal in the brain. It is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others. It does this by enhancing the sense of empathy, our ability to experience others’ emotions. The study found that whenever a particular narrative, or actual account is attention-grabbing and presents a tension, then the reader, or observer will most likely connect. So when you’re watching your favorite action movie, you might suddenly feel a deep connection with the hero and desire to take on the bad guys just as they did. Your empathy for them sets in. You connect and exhibit emotion.

By now you’ve probably seen all over social media and the news the story of how Botham Jean’s brother, Brandt, graciously and lovingly offers forgiveness to former police officer Amber Guyger, who fatally shot Botham. The story has the interest. It has the tension. And then there is this rare, but attractive unconditional love that is extended towards the one that most felt should get the harsh penalty and pay for her sins in prison with no sympathy.

But then we’re all stopped in our tracks when someone who had every reason to cling to justice, instead turns to grace, love, and the explicit gospel. Brandt clearly and in an unscripted manner shared the love of Jesus with this woman, who no doubt was at the lowest point of her life. She had made a mistake. Her life was now going in a completely different direction than she ever dreamed it would. She was without hope. Enter the gospel of Jesus! Never late, but always planned at the perfect Divine time. Judging by the ever-growing millions who continue to click on the story and share it, people are intrigued, inspired, and—I gotta believe—are asking questions about this manner of love.  

This story flares up our empathy and grips our hearts because of the love that this man extends to this woman, who most felt did not deserve it. We notice it, because it isn’t normal. We’re attracted to it, because it’s beautiful. And then we try and figure out why these stories resonate with us. It’s because it reflects the type of love that Jesus had for us who did not deserve love and forgiveness. He didn’t have to love us, but yet He did. And when we believe in Jesus and turn to Him in faith, then that court scene of the embrace of this man with this convicted female moves from an inspirational, viral story, to our reality with the risen Jesus. Brandt’s example impacted me. It makes me want to be a better man. Most importantly, it makes me want to take every opportunity to share the gospel unscripted, biased-free, and saturated with the love of Christ.  

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