I’ve witnessed really good human beings being really good human beings to those that are in the shake down of life lately.
Reaching down and stepping out and speaking up and sending funds.
Disaster relief. Standing up in crowds for the lonely. Writing names on headlines. Narrowing the margins. Doing the work and going to the need. And my heart swells with gratitude.
But here is where I ache and thirst and frustrate.
Are we being really good human beings to the ones placed in our hands? From birth, in our families, across the table, in the checkout line, at the market, friends from the ages, next door to our home?
How about the ones we are asked to go to–even in the still, small whisper–that are out of the way, that may add twelve more minutes to our original plan, that make us envy or tired or agitated, that don’t have a sign on their foreheads saying I need help. Are we really good to those?
Jesus is pretty personal to me, and life is really hard.
I don’t know how people manage a moment without Him, without acknowledging their strength slowly bending out of shape.
And my strength, without Him, looks like mush.
I ugly cry. Anxiety swarms. Flesh feelings stand at the forefront. Words come out of my mouth that never should. I care in a piss-poor way. Apathy lingers. Our home suffers. My immune system shuts down. And the facade of strength I try and put on in my horribly worn fake smile, fools no one.
Do you know what I mean?
We skipped church on Sunday and chose couch church in pajamas and Jeff’s blueberry muffins instead.
The teaching from the couch was like a
punch in the gut, a knowing nod from a stranger, a warm hug on a fall day (where is fall?) and someone cupping every tear and making the kind of good eye contact that makes you feel just safe enough and not totally uncomfortable…all at once.
It hit home for the fleshy place my heart has been in lately, and that is really dissapointed with people.
The teaching was based on John 4, the story of the woman at the well. If you haven’t heard it, I’d encourage you to read it. Jesus reaching out to an untouchable, putting himself in her path–when geographically it made no sense for him to go that route based on where he was headed–and when the rest of the righteous would turn from her story, on various accounts.
The story is beautiful and redeeming.
It stirred up that restlessness in me, the one that says, where are my people at? Where have I been?
Our homefront is steadied by this unshakeable, strength-igniting love of Jesus. And we are firm feelers and believers that these personable principles of Jesus are ones we should be seeking to reflect as human beings living among human beings.
When I stop digging my heels in the ground on my own strength, where I feel my ankles crack and my bones get all kinds of weary, and instead I dig into the strength of my God who is really good at being good to humans, here is what I’ve found…
- Jesus asks great questions. His conversational skills are to be admired. Am I asking great questions?
- He is entirely personal. He doesn’t filter comfort and he gets up really close. Am I breaking boundaries to build and nurture intensely personal relationships?
- He is life-giving. I’m really stuck on this be a fountain, not a drain thing, lately.
- He doesn’t pick and choose. There was no macro and micro need, there was just human need.
- Jesus moves toward people. He doesn’t wait for the invitation. Am I inviting myself in? Am I knocking on the door…of hearts and strangers and sisters and the ones I don’t like that much?
- He didn’t hide behind a religious pretense. He didn’t sit on a throne of right and wrong, but His loving well helps guide us towards well. Do people have to lift their head to see me, or am I there in the dirt with them?
- He takes genuine interest in knowing us, all of us. Do I express interest in all my people? Do they feel valued and known when I leave them?
- Jesus rejects shame. He clothes us in dignity and grace. How do I clothe people? And what clothes do I wear to go out mingling myself?
Those are just a few things, sigh. What if they were embedded in my prayer life and my reaching out and my picking up the phone and sending a message? What if they stilled me enough to think, who in my life is in need of a person today?
And a dear friend asked, well practically–how? 5 tangibles:
- Invite someone to coffee
- Send someone a meaningful message and ask one really great question…and then engage in the follow-up
- Take a home cooked dinner to a new mom, a lonely widow, a single parent, a busy teacher
- Pick up the phone and call the friend, even if it’s been months
- Take a social media break and paint a real picture of your life
I’ve been pretty disappointed in myself too. It’s kind of a mean little cycle. I get frustrated that people don’t see what’s in front of them and then I plant my heels and find my bottom on a couch doing nothing useful to be seen myself.
Jesus has met me the last few weeks though, and helped me to see that it’s time to bite down on my fear (of rejection) and my insecurities (with what people will think) and my envy (of what some have that I don’t), and my bitterness (when people don’t reach out) and my expectations (that may very well turn out differently, and possibly better, than I had planned).
People are people–broken, messy, limited, hurting– I just want to us to strive to be better for the ones at arm’s length.
Life is full when we kick alone to the curb. And knowing fullness is knowing Him.