I sat here this morning thinking of the pain someone I had known for years was going through. A rough patch. A part of me was “glad” that it was not me. The rest of me had a heart that began to feel their pain as my mind recounted the times I had seen pain of that nature.
The death of my mom and dad. The accident of my son in 2001. And the list went on.
Compassion brought me to tears. My heart remembers.
Last night I was watching a TV program. A young woman, devastated by the loss of her parents was on the phone with one of the main characters. This man is portrayed as brash, impulsive and “difficult”. (And yes, maybe I identify a little with him!) As the young woman shared her desire to die, he was told by his supervisors to “turn it over” to the suicide hotline. The comment was made that his “people skills were lacking”. He chose not to and stayed on the phone, ultimately having her tracked down and saving her life. His compassion and drive, saved her life.
“People skills”? The phrase is supposed to imply how you work with folks. What you do to make people feel good around you. What is your skill with people? How do you handle them? Or manage about them?
I see so much time and investment being made to help people feel so good that they think they can do no wrong. So, what is your response when they do something wrong? Does your “you are so smart” when they get a 100 on a test hold muster when they fail the next? (Did they stop being smart?) One of the things we encounter in that scenario is there is no room for error. So, the failure either crushes them or they ignore it thinking they can do no wrong. Danger! Perhaps we need to applaud a success and let them go through failure, with love and kindness.
In the church, believers often either want to nit pick or they gloss over so much, giving everyone a pass despite the behavior they have encountered. Or they “gloat” that it was not them. Stop!
I come from a place in my church history, that if something bad happened to you, you were under the judgment of God. So, when my child had his accident for instance, people felt I was being “judged” by God. People left, stopped calling and more.
I was no longer blessed. Apparently I was now cursed. What? How is it we are blessed when we get something? (…and not just thankful?) Cursed when we don’t. When something good comes our way, we ought to be thankful! But I submit to you that we need to be careful about how we throw the thinking about being “blessed” around. Because when someone encounters a rough time it is easy to back away and say, “you are not blessed”. As believers, too often we divide ourselves into groups predicated on thinking as to whether we are “blessed or cursed”. We may not “say” it, but I have spent too much time with believers to think differently about my observation.
Look, a lot of what we call “curses” is just plain bad choices, stupidity or cultural misunderstanding. Occasionally there is something that is “beyond” us and a bad thing happens. And people do make bad choices or encounter rough times, BUT it is not that the Lord is not present, that they are not blessed necessarily. Choices do have consequences. Period.
Which brings me to one of the things I am in process over. My friend recently encountered a bad time. Some well meaning people have noted it and I have heard the “there but for the grace of God go I” statements. Really? So did they lose grace over a family member’s choice? Have you walked in their shoes? Folks, I grew up on that phrase. My mom was in 12 step groups some 50 years ago. Slogans decorated our refrigerators and our cars! Many that were really good. This one I have not been able to wrap my brain about, especially if you are a believer. Why? It divides. Polarizes. I get it the “drug-don’t drug” thing. But I do not believe it can be a blanket statement. Sometimes you need to kick off the blankets.
The phrase is often enacted when someone goes out to drink, dies, loses a cat or something like that. The lines get drawn. Blessings and curses. Politicized by these statements that do not apply. “I am sorry you are going through a rough time.(But wow, I am so glad it is you and not me!) That is what it sounds like and comes across as. Did they lose grace? Especially if you believe grace is exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ. Did He leave them or forsake them? And even if they were not a believer are we justified in moving them to the dark part of the room?
Think about what you say. Evaluate and correct your thinking.
I feel bad for my friend. Real bad. They do not need pithy statements or to be separated from love by this time.
It is time for us to evaluate what we say, what we do and how we express Christ. And when we do and we allow love to prevail, His kingdom will come here on earth…B