Friday, March 20, 2009

Flip side

It’s so awkward when unfortunate circumstances dare to happen to you.

Why? Because in an instant, all those same uplifting advices you gave to people who’d experienced bumps in the road are the same pearls of wisdom that people are now sharing with you—the very same mantras that you’re chanting to yourself in between intentional deep breaths. Everything will be okay. This will pass. There’s something better in the future. This will make you stronger as a couple. God is faithful and He will provide. And even as these thoughts are handed to you, even as you repeat them in your mind, they suddenly seem so insufficient, so shallow and thin and fragile. In a moment of revelation, you see the thin gossamer of your optimism in the face of other people’s misfortune. And you see right through that flimsy fabric, into the glaring light of your own Very Serious Situation.

And you wonder how angry you might have made some down-and-out people.

To further complicate things, the book of James says that Christians are to embrace trials. We’re to understand that these situations that cause strife are actually the very same struggles that will teach perseverance—and perseverance will bring maturity and completion. I know from experience, too, that struggles in the life of a believer are usually instrumental in creating a more selfless person with greater faith in God. (That latter part often happens after the fact, of course, but there it is.)

In sum? While you face fear and uncertainty, you simultaneously face the knowledge that you’ve probably annoyed a lot of suffering people with your well-intentioned statements. You know that you should be doing all the things you told them to do, and now you remember how challenging that is. And you realize that, since Christianity proclaims strength in weakness and faith through hardship, there may be some people watching to see if you really live by your stated belief system or abandon it in tough times.

It’s so much easier to just run in circles, scream, and shout.


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