samedi, septembre 14, 2013

Words you might want to think about before you say them

I have a friend who is an all round good man.  He's intelligent, a great family guy, funny, and really good at what he does.

But he's got a habit that drives me crazy.  When I ask him how thing are going are home, he'll tell me: "We've really been blessed."

At that point, I have to do some quick mental gymnastics --  after all, that's a term of common use among Christians, particularly evangelical Christians.

Perhaps you also are "blessed."  You have elderly parents in good health.  Or your kids are all doing well in school.  You have babies on your schedule, not on someone else's. You met the love of your life in college, and things have been going just great ever since.

Of course, if you are a person of faith, you would ascribe this to God's good favor working in your family, your business, your love life, and even your, forgive me fertility cycle.

The only problem with this term?

The man next to you in church might be watching his sixty something mom die painfully of cancer.  The person three pews down could have a teenage boy who is hostile, distant and down most of the time -- every night she goes home from work afraid of what she's going to find.

The pastor preaching that upbeat sermon might be struggling with an alcohol addiction that threatens to take over his life -- it's a genetic thing in his family.

Wait... you mean that they aren't blessed? Well, what are they then? Cursed?

This isn't easy stuff.  At various times in my life, which has had some struggles and some frank tragedy, I have wondered why some people's lives seem to go without incident, and others are laced with horror.

People in Colorado: blessed or cursed?

People in Syria?


Bestselling authors? Brilliant writers whose manuscripts never get published?

I do believe that God works in this world.  But I admit that I'm not sure how, though I have experienced times of  feeling blessed in so many ways.

 I don't believe that God picks and chooses who will be given "normal" lives, and who will have to wrest meaning from them with tears and sadness and doubt.

Many of us have times of  normalcy, happiness and grief.

I have heard people who are terribly ill, or those who have lost someone they love say those words -- and been thankful that they can find grace and character and beauty in the twilight.

So I don't honestly have a theologically correct, nicely packaged answer to this dilemma.  My concern is mostly pastoral.

The next time you are exuberant, and those words are about to flow from your lips, please think at least once. Take a look at the person or people who will hear or read them.

And take care, my brothers and sisters, that your "blessing"  cannot be heard as their condemnation.

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