Friday, June 12, 2015

It Isn't All My Life

Sometimes you ask me how I am, and I demur.
Maybe someone just called my husband in crying distress and needing prayer,
and it's broken our hearts that the same people
who have borne up under so much pain are hurting again.
Why do some people
seem to get so much more than their fair share of grief and heartache?
Shouldn't there be a rule
that you only have to deal with one death every ten or twenty years or so?
They're on my heart, and you want to know how I am,
and I'm fine.
Really, I am.
And how is that fair?
And I can't talk about how they're hurting, because it's their private grief.
And although they shared it with us, it isn't ours to share.

And just a day or two later,
someone confides a soaring joy that makes us laugh out loud --
and tells us we can't breathe a word of it.
Even though it's a fulfilled promise of God.
And we nod, and try to tamp down the smiles a little,
so as not to let on that we know.
And it's such a privilege to be allowed into both --
the sorrow and the rejoicing.
But, man -- how to respond to your question?
How am I?
I'm elated!
I'm heartbroken.
I can't tell you about either.

And so I tell you something mundane from my life.
And maybe you think I'm withdrawn.
Or I'm hiding something.
Or that I don't want to be friends.
And I want to be friends.
I want to share my life --
but it isn't all my life.

And even sometimes when it's my own hurt I don't speak of,
it's because maybe someone has acted badly.
They've done something mean,
and I'm trying to respond the way I ought to.
I don't post their dirty laundry on my Facebook status,
and gather all my friends to my side to condemn them.
Because do you know my hope?
I hope they come to their senses.
I hope they recognize the error someday.
And how will they ever be able to do that
if everyone they know thinks they are the devil's own apprentice?

A friend told me a story about a pastor he knew
who had been really wronged by people who knew him.
He'd been slandered and they had drawn others away and separated themselves.
The pastor had been really upset privately in my friend's presence --
and rightly so, frankly.
He's a human being with natural emotions.
The pastor had said he'd be happy if he never saw ______ again.
A few years went by.
The person he'd said that about realized he'd been misled.
He'd misjudged the whole thing.
He came back repentant and asked to be forgiven.
A few more years went by.
A new area needed a church pastor.
The pastor laid hands on and sent out that same guy who had come back.
Our friend was a private witness to both.
And I smiled to hear about restored fellowship with more depth --
the depth of repentance and forgiveness.
A reality of Christian fellowship.
Sometimes when we're hurt,
we have to choose the end game.
Hope for reconciliation, because we are family, screw-ups and all.

In the same way that you will never have a healthy marriage
if you go tattling about every failure your spouse has to your family of origin;
how will you live love for the church
if you can't swallow a few hurts and hope for the best?
Sometimes our love points out an error,
and sometimes it shuts its mouth and prays,
and accepts a painful slight.
Paul rebuked Christians for going to court against each other.
"Why not rather be wronged?" he asked them,
"Why not rather be defrauded?"
Better to be a victim in this case, than a plaintiff.

And how are you doing?

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