By Laura D. Field of Reflective Tapestry of Life
No one can change the world all on his or her own, but we each can change a little part of it each day. Instead of making a difference in how we react and behave on a daily basis, we have taken on the role of being okay with the self-righteous attitude in that our views are the only ones that matter.
Newsflash: Life is not about “you”, it is about what we can do on this earth while we are graced in having a life to live.
Please do not misunderstand; I can be a little opinionated myself, yet it doesn’t take me long to realize that just because my views seem right, there is always someone who does not feel the same. So what I share today, is a result of my own pain in what I see as a Christian believer, in a world that is evolving ever so fast on a roller-coaster of destruction.
I just listened to a beautiful song about “We are praying for…” and as I listened to the lyrics, I realized that this is part of what is wrong with those of us who are believers. We pray, and we pray often. This is awesome! God desires to hear our prayers. Some say a quick prayer and they are done. Some say they pray and in reality do not. It is not for us to judge.
But, before we get so warm and fuzzy inside about our wonderful prayer life, I need to ask: What are we doing about those prayers? I am not saying that prayers do not go un-noticed nor go un-answered. I believe that God hears our prayers. God knows our hearts. Yet let’s open that box of Holy goodness and be aware that God also knows our actions, and again, knows our heart.
In this world of evil, heartbreak and pain, no one human can be the answer to all of the needs of the world. But, we can be the example in which Christ has asked us to be. Christ was placed on this earth to be an example of God’s design for us.
We have it all wrong!! We are not here for self-gratification. We are not designed to be self-righteous and judgmental. We are not here to decide who deserves our love or compassion, because of who they are or their status. We are here to give, to share compassion, to be generous, to be loving and kind within an unconditional spirit.
But please, do NOT misconstrue that all this goodness should come with a doormat for people to wipe their selfish feet upon. There are people who take advantage of the givers of the world, and this is wrong as well.
And then I ask “Where is our humanity?” We are all so good about using our voices to share our opinions, but how good are we in using our hands and hearts in serving others without the just reward of recognition? When we hear of the pain and suffering of others, do we provide more than just prayers? Or, do we drop off a box of stale, old food at our local food pantry? Is that all we have to offer?
We live in a great big world, but sometimes our hearts are a reflection of a very tiny piece of that world; the part that only matters to ourselves, vs. the impact of what we can do on a broader level.
To present a clearer picture, I will share a personal story that will possibly offend some people to whom I love; past church family members.
When my girls were young, I was not only a mom, but was also working 40-60 hours, and served as a children’s choir director for six years. I spent at least 10 hours a week preparing music, lessons to apply to the songs the children sang, as well as the rehearsal and worship time. The annual spring musicals required more time to be invested in creating costumes, and coordinating extra rehearsals along with visits to local nursing homes. My hope was to teach these children how to use their passion for music and love for Christ in a manner that would be pleasing to God while blessing others. My hope was to teach them about giving of themselves to others selflessly. Please, do not pat me on the back; this was a service I felt that God had placed on my heart to do. I did NOT do this with any expectation other than to see the children learn to serve a God they had learned to love. It was an honor and joy to work with these children.
But something happened that broke my spirit, which broke my heart. That was when I realized that no matter how much I did, the moment I needed help in a real way, I was forgotten.
We all go through trials in life, but at one point during this ministry I required some surgery that took me out of service for a few weeks. I needed to rest and I was not allowed to lift heavy objects for six weeks. I took a few weeks off, but returned sooner than I should have and with a broken spirit.
My pastor called a week after the procedure to see how I was doing and to share that the church family was praying for me. I thanked him for the prayers and shared that I was doing okay and healing. He then asked me if I was being provided with meals from the church family, a service that was typical of our church family . This was the part of the conversation that was hurtful. The church family to whom I served and the families whose children I spent time with each week had forgot me. I was transparent and shared that no one had called to see how I was doing, nor had I received a call about scheduling meals or how I was doing.
At this point, I was doing better, with my girls and husband helping out, so I told him we were fine. He shared his disappointment in how the church family responded in an area in which was pivotal in how love should be shown to at least those within the family of God.
That evening his wife was over with a hot meal, and I was told that I would have a week of meals that were scheduled to help us out. By day three, the woman who brought the meal asked me: “So, how much longer will you need meals?” I graciously responded and said that this would be fine as our last meal. In all honesty, we didn’t need “meals”. I needed support because my body was exhausted. This last delivery was a painful example of the transparency of what some Christians are like.
As I returned to my ministry, some parents brought in food and meals, and put them in bags by the wall. Yet after the rehearsal, they all gathered their children, and not one offered to help bring those heavy items to my van. Not one!! My young daughters did the lifting, as well as myself, and I quietly cried on that ride home. It was not that I did not appreciate the “thought” of trying to help save some time at home, it was the “thoughtlessness” of waiting weeks after my procedure and then just leaving me with the burden of having to carrying it all on my own.
This experience humbled me. It also made me realize how human Christians really are, but also how thoughtless they can be. It broke me. I started to see “people” not “Christians”. And although my heart broke, and a film of bitterness covered my heart, I decided to heal from the destructive actions of how our family was treated. I also decided to reflect in the mirror daily of how I might respond to others in similar situations.
As a mom, I had to be careful of how my bitterness could affect my girls and their views of other Christians. It was hard, but it was even harder realizing how clear sighted our girls were. I had to remind them (and ever so often myself) that the actions of others were NOT the action of Christ. It did not mean they did not love Jesus, but it did reflect that we are all infants in our faith. Through the many things our girls saw and experienced, despite our best efforts to raise them in a Christian home, I never allowed them to hide away in world of make-believe. The experiences made each of us better human beings. Unfortunately, it has made one question her faith, or in reality what Christianity is all about. This to me continues to be a sad element of life.
Our world has become divided. Everyone seems to fit into the classification of being a part of a minority, even Christians. And yet, when we place ourselves within a minority title, we are creating a segregation of humanity. We are actually undermining our own value, creating a division of self-worth. When we say others are better than ourselves, we are putting them on a pedestal creating bitterness within ourselves. When we perceive ourselves as better than others, then we face our own pedestal of self-righteousness.
As we claim our “titles” of diversity, let me share a little about what we as Christians have done. We have alienated God’s people from actually seeing the transparency of God through our attitude and actions.
This is what a friend of mine shared with me recently; who is completely honest about her atheism. She grew up Catholic and saw the abuse within the church. Today she sees people who claim to be Christian who point fingers and treat others poorly. And yet, she knows a few Christians who make her think and give her hope in that there might possibly be a God. These people, she stated, show love and compassion without judgment. This to her is what Christianity is all about. But, because there are so many Christian Advocates placing their own values on what they believe as sin, these so-called sinners are questioning “who” is this god that they claim to serve?
You see, no matter what we decide to call ourselves, whether Christian, Black, or White, how we behave and treat others is how we will be perceived. We each need to be accountable for how we live and treat others. When we neglect the human need for compassion and love, integrity, honesty with moral values, we neglect the human need to serve others.
This is not to say that praying for others is weak, cheap or non-valued. For some, this is all they have to give. For others, this is just a small portion of what they are able to invest in others.
Ways to give of yourself: time, phone calls, notes in the mail, a small meal, babysit (young children or an elderly parent), support a cause (financially or through time), etc. Basically if you see a need that touches your heart, and there is a way in which you can give, do it without question. Do it without noticeable reward. The options are endless.
More often than not, you will not receive a pat on the back, yet you will always receive the heart-felt joy knowing that you did what you were called to do. Just remember, your calling is not everyone’s calling. You might have the heart to run/ride in a charitable cause, yet others might have the heart to knit hats for the homeless. We all come with different gifts, talents, and means to give.
Whether we claim to be a Christian or not is not what life is about. Christianity is a foundation in which Christ laid out for us to follow. It is not a badge of honor or a shield of shelter to hide behind. If we choose the title of Christian, then we are to reflect what Christ taught while He walked His path on this earth, for us to follow.
“Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not [a]grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ASV)
Laura – Blogger, paid Freelance writer