Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday Focus - Jaded
2010 has been a tough year for a lot of people. Sickness, conflict, financial difficulties, and stress have taken their toll on some of my nearest and dearest. I feel some of their pain. You see, I may not be experiencing the exact same troubles they are, but I have found 2010 to be no walk in the park.
Before I begin, perhaps I’d better warn you that this is a mask off, brutally honest account of what has made me jaded this year. I’m tempted to steal the name of Jean’s blog, In All Honesty as that is an accurate reflection of what I’m about to write.
There are probably about two posts which sum up my year so far: Friday Focus – From the Inside Out and Friday Focus – Mourning with the Mourning. It’s no secret that I have struggled with dealing with fellow Christians, and struggled with my own sin resulting from the hurt I’ve felt.
This is how I’ve felt in a nutshell:
• Disillusioned that people do not seem to keep in touch despite my efforts to initiate things and keep relationships alive. Yet, they seem to have plenty of time to muck around on Facebook.
• Discouraged that people seem to content to chuck major news on Facebook whereas once upon a time they would have shared with me personally or via an email or text message.
• Hurt that people have come to me for comfort for various problems they’ve faced, yet they go AWOL when I’ve asked for prayer/comfort/support from them.
• Patronised when I’ve confronted some people about the above, yet they think they’ve done nothing wrong.
I get the vibe from many people that they think Duncan and I are just a cute couple of loving, forgiving people who will take their crap and never call them to account. If it were non Christians treating us this way, I could take it more easily. But it’s God’s people who I felt have been acting in self-absorbed, thoughtless ways. Often I’ve felt more love from those who do not know God than those who do.
At times I’ve felt that if I had a choice to rescue either Ebony or one of the people who have hurt me from a dangerous situation, I would choose my cat. Other times, I’ve found myself wishing the world was full of dogs instead of people. At least dogs are faithful, loyal and true. I know that sounds shocking, but that’s honestly how I’ve felt.
This year has involved a painful series of lessons from God on patience, bitterness, forgiveness and perseverance. Often I’ve felt this is so unfair, like I’m being punished for caring about things that no-one else seems to care about while the people who have hurt me continue on their oblivious, merry way. Who’s rebuking them? But recently God brought to mind that I can only know my story like Aslan says to Aravis in The Horse and his Boy, one of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. No-one is told any story but their own.” This is one reason why I find yesterday’s Bible verse one of the most challenging in the whole Bible. God has taught me that I need to trust Him in how He deals with other people. He does not need my sin to humble them. I find it so easy to love people who are good to me. Showing kindness to them is so easy because they are so lovable. But Jesus warns that showing love to the lovable is what pagans do. Showing love to those who care little for us is what makes God’s people different to the world.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:46-47)
Right now, I feel like the greatest ‘enemies’ in my life are those who follow Christ. Moving to Kojonup won’t solve this problem because it isn’t Dally people I’m disillusioned with…it’s people from Perth. I can’t avoid them indefinitely; we have too many mutual friends. Part of me feels the solution is to keep all relationships at a surface level to avoid future hurt. But during my quiet time today, I felt God speaking to me that following Christ was never meant to be devoid of pain. It just hurts more when the ones causing the pain are doing it in apathy. In some ways I can relate to King David when he wrote these words:
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. (Psalm 55:12-13)
I have been blown away by the kindness some people have shown to me this year. When my Nan got sick, most of the comfort I received was from people I have known only for a few years or less. I had acquaintances coming up to me or going out of their way to send me messages because they’d read about it on my Facebook status or heard through another person. Yet, some people I’d known for years, and even considered good friends, just ignored me. From this I’ve learnt that, as amazing as some people are, I cannot rely on people. I must focus my attention upwards to my Heavenly Father, the source of all comfort. Yet, somehow I have to balance the reality that people will disappoint me with the responsibility of Christians to show love and comfort to those in their midst..even when it is inconvenient or they can’t be bothered.
I praise God for one friend in particular who has been going through such an awful time this year, yet has been encouraging and counselling me via email over the past few days. I have been blessed by her willingness to share what God has been teaching her, and how He has been giving her the strength to love someone who hurt her deeply, when her initial intention was to want them to suffer as she did. It is this supernatural love from God, which does not come naturally, that I have been praying for this week to enable me to love my 'enemies'.
This year it has been a challenge to obey despite my feelings. I’m not there yet - not by a long shot. To be honest, I’m praying that next year will be easier than this one.
If you would like to participate in Friday Focus and share what God has been teaching you lately, click here.