Posted by: cmittermeier | November 4, 2013

“Everythings FINE! Now keep your nose out of it!”

Oh my, me think thou dost protest too much!  We all know when we’ve hit that nerve, when words of concern are met with outright hostility.  If you’ve ever really cared about someone you know what I mean.  Fair weather friends who never speak up and tell you the truth likely haven’t felt this, but if you’ve ever found the guts to tell someone close, “what you are doing is going to hurt you” will likely know the slap that comes next.

Everyone makes bad decisions, myself included.  I’ve had my husband and kids many times reign me in and I can tell you it hurts.  No one likes looking in the mirror when it’s positioned at the flabbiest spots.  Problem is, if we pretend those spots don’t exist, if we ignore them – they will likely only get worse. My husband came across a page that went over works of mercy, here’s the list for those of us not graced with great memories:

  • The Spiritual Works of Mercy
    • Admonish the sinner
    • Instruct the ignorant
    • Counsel the doubtful
    • Comfort the sorrowful
    • Bear wrongs patiently
    • Forgive all injuries
    • Pray for the living and the dead

There is a fine line however, when admonishing the sinner.  Because we can tell someone out of love – or – we can tell them to hurt them.  Even out of love, our words can be twisted to be viewed as conditions to their love.  How many gals out there had that boyfriend – you know the one I’m talking about – who suggested we might want the salad instead of the fries?  “Yeah baby, you’re beautiful, we just want to keep you that way, moment on the lips, lifetime on your hips…” I remember watching a parent berate a young child eating too much and wondered if she was more concerned about how she looked than the child’s health?  Our motives when admonishing the sinner are key.  Am I doing it because I want to appear better than the person, to push them down and raise me up?  Or am I doing it because I genuinely love them and want to warn them of the path they follow?

Even when your motivations are pure, you must be sure they are ready to listen at some level.  A quick “but out” doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to listen by the way, it’s what happens afterward that is key.  In the moment most of us will be grumpy at being corrected, but when the heat is off many of us are willing to admit they had something right and will act on their concern.  If your concern pushes them further away, further into bad behaviour, you just made things worse.  If you know ahead of time the person is likely to take it badly, sometimes the best thing you can do is to pray and wait.

There are so many who I want to share all the great stuff I have found following Christ – but I know I can’t.   The grace to say no to temptation, to put the Halloween treats away for good this last Sunday – nope, can’t share that with a few key people close to me but I can with you. I can share my prayers for those who will not yet listen.  Maybe they will help you find your own prayers for those people not yet ready to accept there is a problem.  For a few of the younger ones, I pray they will one day be willing to face just how bad they have made their lives.  For a few closer to my age, I pray they realize their path does not lead to life and make changes in time.  For those older, I pray that they find the courage to make changes instead of giving up because they are ‘too old to change’.  The stakes are high when you’re battling cancer, and I know how hard it is to change as we get older, but it is possible.  That last set of prayers is the only ones I may never see bloom.

One day, with the grace of God we may find a moment where our words will help them toward the right path.  Just remember, you’re likely to get slapped and that’s fine.  It is what happens after the initial shock that matters.  If there are no words or moments, be content to wait and pray.

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