Before you hurt someone, feel.

When the Lord saw her he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Luke 7:13




I am a people-pleasing junkie. I admit it. If there was a support group for people like me, I would be there with my hand raised, ready to say, “Hi, my name is Renee and I am a people-pleasing addict.” And then I would go on to confess how many times I fell off the wagon that week. It's in my nature. I know it's wrong to please people before we please God, but I do it without thinking all of the time. Along that vein, I have to admit that I did not want to write this. I’ve been fighting it since I received the letter, but God won’t give me anything else to write about, so I’m doing it. I want to write about happy things, but God seems to have other plans for me. These words do need to be written and they need to be read by many in the Christian community.

In one month I had two very different encounters about the same issue. I think they display the difference between Jesus's love and 'Churchanity.'

LOVE:

One day a friend called me. He said he woke the night before thinking about me and I had continued to weigh heavily on his heart all day and so he called to see how I was. His timing was an open door for me to confide my struggle. I needed to talk to someone and God, knowing and caring about me intimately, gave me a friend at just the right time. This friend has known me over half of my life and knows my love for God. He has watched me grow as I have bumbled along this path of faith. With tears running down my cheeks I sat in my truck in a grocery store parking lot and emptied the contents of my heart. It happened to be the one year anniversary of my 'big mistake.' Even though I knew I was following God, it still hurt. I had no doubts as to the road I was on. There was no turning back, so why did it have to hurt like this, still? He encouraged me keep doing what I've been doing, and told me it was OK to feel the way I did. He said wounded hearts take a long time to heal. By the end of our conversation I was laughing and joking with him about the ironies of living in a small town and trying to heal when it's in your face all of the time. He committed to continue praying for me. He loved me. His love refreshed me.

I told him that I am committed to obeying God, but the truth is, sometimes it is still hard. This was me, honest about my heart, honest before God and man. This is love. Love leaves room for imperfections and hopes and believes the best for someone.


CHURCHANITY:

A few weeks after my friend called, I received an email. The author began their words with the fact that they were writing to me out of love. The contents of the email brought me to my knees. 

As I began to read the words, tears formed in my heart and began to spill down my cheeks. They wrote to suggest, ‘out of love’, that I move away from my home, my community and my family of faith. They were told something about me and made a severe judgment in the name of Jesus and implored me to leave our community for the sake of Christianity in our town. I bowed my head in confusion and shame and I poured my heart out to Jesus, asking him to help me understand why this person would write these harsh words to me. I felt condemnation and the need to justify my actions. Accused of sin and judged of it all in one motion, there were no questions, no genuine concern, just an admonition to leave Sitka because I was a sinner that needed a fresh start somewhere else. They also accused me of lying to them. All of this was cloaked in the premise of 'love.'

WOW.

I will say that what they heard certainly had room for assumptions of evil motives. I needed to close a chapter in my life in order to fully begin a new one. I am not completely innocent in this, but my motives were pure, even if I went about it the wrong way. And the letter writer would have understood if they had gathered all of the facts before making such a harsh judgment.

Their assumptions of the motives of my actions were completely wrong. They came to me in the name of Jesus and told me I lied to them and that the best thing I could do for myself, my family, the other people involved and Christianity in this town was to move, without ever inquiring or checking to see if what they were told was the truth.

CONCLUSION:

This is the thing, we can work together or we can bite and devour one another. It’s our choice. I do not want to see the name of Jesus in our community insulted any more than they do. 

Love is open and honest, willing to be real, acknowledging that nobody has it all together. Love is willing to be a part of the imperfect church that Jesus died for. Love is ready to build bridges between hearts, while assumptions and judgment are burning them down.

And this is where we can all learn a lesson.  Please, get all of the facts. And if you can’t or won’t take the time to get the facts, then err on the side of mercy. Do not assume evil of people based on your personal experiences. Everyone is not like you, people are diverse and situations are unique, you can’t assume anything. You only cause hurt and division in the body of Christ when you jump to conclusions. I have found that when people assume things it is usually very close to home. Their assumptions are usually based on their own experiences and choices they either have made in the past or would make now. 

What we assume of others is often a reflection of our own hearts.


Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice,
But rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up,
Never loses faith, is always hopeful,
And endures through every circumstance.
1Corinthians 13:4-7

Let love be your highest goal.
1Corinthians 14:1

Love does no wrong to a neighbor.
Romans 13:10

This is my commandment, 
Love each other in the same way 
I have loved you.
Jesus. John 15:12

Why do you pass judgment on your brother?
Romans 14:10


Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.
Ephesians 4:3


This is written in hope that more of us can make a conscience effort, purposeful in our actions, not to criticize our sisters and brothers, but instead to build them up, to help them and to love them. To truly love them and treat them as Jesus treats us.


Love,
Renee

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wide Awake