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In the midst of pain, it can be naturally hard to embody a mindset of gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness. It can be even harder to grasp a true understanding of someone else’s situation, especially if we have even a hint of bias, or a touch of preconceived notions. Evangelical Christians have a way of thinking that the more perfect our life is (and looks), the more “Christian” we somehow are. This is a myth, and a dangerous one to say the least.
After all, God qualifies those whom he calls, and not the other way around. As a matter of fact, it is often the case that going through something very difficult and painful is part of what qualifies us for either ministry or the pursuit of God’s calling in our lives. Sometimes Christian ministers like to think that Christians who go through things are disqualified. (Granted, there are cases of grievous sins that would warrant such disqualification). However, going through pain and tribulation can help qualify someone for the work that God has for them.
It’s even taboo in many Christian circles for Christians to go through things in their lives; I would rather not have it all together and need to rely on God, rather than to be perfect and portray my life as if I have it all together. It’s called being genuine and transparent. Besides, it’s incredibly easy to say what you would do in a particular situation until it happens to you. Many have their opinions… until something happens to them.
I really actually do feel bad for people who look at my situation and think they know it, because they don’t. People have a tendency to insert themselves into situations where they are not needed, nor invited for that matter. As if someone can hear my situation and say, “Hey, I know what I would do if I were you!” Oh really? That’s interesting, because your life is completely different than mine, your circumstances are nowhere near mine, and you have not the slightest idea of what I’m dealing with. For a Christian to impose themselves on another’s situation is as ignorant as looking in a knife drawer for a light bulb.
When someone (or people) misconstrue your situation based on what they’ve heard from others, keep in mind that what people think about you is actually a reflection of themselves, not you. I feel genuinely bad for people who think they know my situation, or what I’m going through, simply because they’ve heard things. Presumption is the worst form of communication. It becomes easy to write somebody off because of something they’ve heard, rather than going to the person directly. It’s the Matthew 18 principle. Go to the person directly first, in private.
Ask yourself: How many times am I going to someone and starting my sentences off with the following:
“Did you hear what happened with ____?”
“Can you believe that he/she did ___________?”
“Oh my gosh, he totally did ____________. I can’t believe that!”
“Did _______ tell you about _______ and what happened?”
“He/she did that? You should do _______ because of that.”
If we do this, then we are gossipers, and we need to knock it off. It doesn’t help anyone, especially when you’re not in their situation and don’t know even the slightest about it. To be frank, it’s annoying. If you hear one thing about someone that is either misinterpreted, a half-truth, or misconstrued element of that person or situation, it skews the trajectory of how you think about that person going forward. The trajectory of your opinion or mindset about that person increases in the direction of what you have heard, whether right or wrong.
To counter this, go to that person directly and confront it. Yet, people just don’t seem to want to confront people these days about anything. It’s the passive-aggressive culture (especially in Minnesota). So when you hear something about a situation, take it with a grain of salt, knowing that you don’t know or understand the whole picture.
Be thankful for your own life, and focus on Christ. When we put first God’s kingdom, everything else is added unto it.
Be thankful, knowing that God is the only one that truly understands it all. Be thankful that He knows your situation, and He is there for you.
Here are some encouraging (yet convicting verses) for you as you navigate through your own situations in life, and especially as you are mindful about what other people are dealing with:
Proverbs 26:17: “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.”
1 Thessalonians 4:10-12: “Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
2 Thessalonians 3:11-13: “We hear that some of you are living in idleness. You are not busy working—you are busy interfering in other people’s lives! We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers, do not get tired of doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:15-16: “If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name!”
Proverbs 26:20-21: “Where there is no wood, a fire goes out, and where there is no gossip, contention ceases. Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious person to kindle strife.”