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Black

Getting my way

Still processing some stuff from Community Group, which of course, overlaps with the stuff of life as a whole. One of the attitudes I find unpalatable most of the time, in others and in myself, is this: "Things aren't going the way I want them to, and I can't stand it."

First off, it's a given that things won't always go the way I want them to. Duh. I'm not the Sovereign Lord of the universe, so it's just basic theology. I'm free to long, struggle, and mourn, but it's foolishness bordering on arrogance to be shocked and indignant when I don't get my way.

And secondly, yes, we can stand it. At least most of us can, most of the time. There are exceptions, of course, but come on. The tsunami disaster is a good example for perspective. Has my home, community, livelihood, family been wiped out? Do I face carnage whenever my eyes are open, and images of it whenever they are closed? Have I bled? Have I lost a limb? Am I at a loss as to where my next meal or drink of water may come from? Maybe it's worth considering that I'm blessed, even if I suffer some of the inconveniences I face. Maybe I don't truly know suffering at all. Maybe my license to bitch, externally or internally, has been revoked.

I don't think any of us has to deny our pain. That's stoicism, not faith. Those who follow Jesus have been freed to struggle, and struggle honestly. I do, however, think many of us push away the comfort the Holy Spirit offers us, because that comfort requires that I acknowledge that He is God and I am not, that I don't always get my way.

God is sovereign and He is good. The fact that He is sovereign means He rules the universe and I do not. The fact that He is good means that His rule is better than mine, both universally and in the intimate details of my life. In every way I deny or rebel against that, I'm walking in darkness, in death. Submitting to Jesus is embracing a hope far greater than getting my way.

Comments

Do you mind if I copy this to my mom via email, referring to you anonymously 'as a friend'? I think it would help her -maybe- with some stuff she's going through.
No problem, though I accept no responsibility for the outcome!
hahahaha... I hope she gets the spirit of the message, not taking it completely literally. The stuff she's going through (mostly relating to my dad) is not anything she can control... and she's very depressed. I think she's depressed because she doesn't feel like she has any control of the situation(s) despite her attempts to make things better and keep telling herself, "Count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds..." It ain't workin' - she's not functioning on a happy level right now.

Anyway, sorry to vent this on you. Thank you for the post, and the permission :D
Amen.
You may have seen me say this before... but my grandmother use to tell my little sister that she shouldn't get upset about the fact that she had her leg amputated because there were people in the world who never had legs at all. The problem with that way of thinking is that there will ALWAYS be someone worse off than you. Even the people in the tsumanis can say that at least before the waves hit they had families that were fed and didn't live in the AIDS infected starvation areas of Africa, watching their kids slowly die. But that doesn't mean that their pain isn't horrific. Just because there are people with NO legs, doesn't mean that Maureen losing one wasn't awful. And just because there's someone worse off than you (or someone else), doesn't negate the pressure that you (or someone else) may feel when things appear to be crumbling.

I see people struggling... and no matter how much worse things are outside of them, I have to recognize that their pain is real and that it deserves the same kind of compassion that I would be willing to offer one of the tsumani victims. Sure, there comes a time when you may want to shake someone who's wallowing in self-pity... just make sure it's actually long-term self-pity before you raise your hand back... because if they're truly at a loss as to what to do, you're only going to serve to make it worse.
Really? Does every struggle deserve the same kind of compassion? I don't think I agree with you.

I'm not suggesting people not be upset, mourn, struggle, or long. To suggest that Maureen was not allowed to do any or all of those, for example, would have been ridiculous. I don't think, however, that means we can't or shouldn't have perspective on our sufferings (or incoveniences). We can, and we should.

Perspective means seeing my pain (or inconvenience) in a wider context than my experience—the world doesn't stop or start based on me. It also means seeing a broader hope than I can offer myself—God is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and I don't get to decide how or when He does that.

I see a lot of "awfulizing" around and within me, and I'm weary of it, because very little is truly awful or beyond our ability to cope, particularly with the hope we have in Christ. Much of it denies the gospel entirely, because we make ourselves the final arbiters of the way things should be. That's just not so.

I'll weep with those who weep, but I won't awfulize with them. Though there may be suffering, I trust that it is in fact OK when we don't get our way—God is still sovereign and good, and our dramas, big and small, don't negate that.
You mention "get our way" and maybe I don't understand what instances you're talking about enough to be able to converse about it. I'm not really talking about diappointments in what we have or don't have, and if that's what you're post was about, then you can ignore me now. :D

But in my OWN train of thought... I do believe everyone deserves the same level of compassion... they may not deserve the same ACTION... I don't hear of someone being in a fender bender and then run out and donate money to the fender-bender relief effort. But I can sympathize with the fact that they had something happen that wasn't plesant. Jesus had a depth of compassion for everyone he met. What he chose to DO with that compassion varied on the need. But there was compassion none-the-less.

What I see at times is a piousness of sorts... people deciding what is and isn't worth compasioon... what is and isn't worth being upset about... or frustrated over... and it's usually based on our own experiences. I used to have little to NO patience for people who struggled with depression or anxiety disorders... then, this year... I had Mabry. Now I'm not so quick to tell someone to "just get over it" like I was before. My battle with anxiety and "baby blues" isn't about whether or not God is sovereign... it's about finding a way to cope in light of that. I'm not even asking for the anxiety to go away, thought it would be nice... I just want to see how to work through it enough to continue being productive.

I think sometimes we lack the desire to see through another person's eyes and discover that what they feel isn't what you can comprehend because they're wired differently... and if you can't comprehend it, then you can't tell them what to do about it. And if you can't tell them what to do about it, all you have left to offer them is compassion... and prayer.

I do think we disagree—I don't experience the same compassion for a fender-bender or a paper cut as I do for a fatal accident or lost limb, and I don't believe I'm supposed to. That happens before the "doing" ever begins.

I recognize that people are wired differently, but there's more to life, to reality, to truth, then how we're wired. When push comes to shove, I wonder if lot of us have trouble believing that. If I'm honest, I have to admit that I do. And so we try to remake reality in our own image, the way we think it ought to be, and are inevitably frustrated. Thank God.

That in no way takes away from godly sorrow and longing, or even suffering. Each of those is a given, if He can be taken at His word. Much of prayer is protest—affirming with God that this is not the way things are supposed to be, that shalom has been violated, and calling on Him to act, to redeem, to heal, to advance His Kingdom. When that's what we're doing, I'm all for it. When it's not, I think it's OK to consider being still and getting over ourselves.
Yeah, I think that's all well and good until you find yourself in bigger crap than you've even dealt with before, lacking the ability to focus and think to "get over it". That's a phrase we use when we don't want to get involved to the point of helping to nurse someone. And yeah, sometimes the wounds seem really superficial to us... and at times, they really are... but other times, what appears to be superficial is rooted in something much deeper and passive aggressive platitidues don't help much. I'd rather someone say nothing at all than to look at me while I'm hurting and tell me to get over it. Few people ever really need that kind of in-your-face response. Not unless we're dealing with someone who's every moment is spent whining about life... I don't know anyone like that, personally.

I think what I was trying to say is that compassion is necessary when dealing with people. Wether you feel it for three minutes or three days depends on what it is you're seeing. But if you can't have compassion of SOME sort, then I would submit that there's something wrong on your end as well as on theirs.
I think a better, compassionate and non-passive aggressive approach than "get over it" is often along the line's of Jesus' question, "Do you want to be well?" It's a valid question, or else He wouldn't have asked. He asked it of a lame man before healing him, and with good reason. In many ways, it would have been easier (and certainly safer) for the man to continue to live as he had than to accept healing. So it can be for us—we all know ways in which we find it easier to live in our cramped personal dramas than to risk hope in Him instead of in ourselves.

It's possible, of course, to want to be well, yet still to suffer. But to want to be well, by His definition of wellness, should be our constant hope just as it is His constant promise. True compassion encourages us to run the race with this prize set before us.