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So I was walking down Lower Wacker with Lindsey and her mom, and we were talking about a friend of ours who we just talked to. Lindsey had spent most of last weekend in prayer and conversation with and for our friend, and we had just left a short, slightly awkward, one-sided conversation, wherein our friend was hesitant to say anything of any real importance or significance. This friend of ours has been struggling to get a state I.D. lately and Lindsey gave our friend all the information and resources needed for getting one. Our friend had a week to do it. And they didn’t, they were busy, without having done anything…
As we walked away, we wondered why. Why do our friends sometimes refuse or reject our help?
I started getting introspective (as I do too often) and came to a point of realization, I reject, resist, and refuse the help of others just as much as any one friend on the street. I become awkward around people who know I need their help, and I get bitter to those I see as “better off” than myself. I get angry at people who I think have no right to think they are better than me, without having any proof to suggest they actually think they are better than me. I see advances to help as flaunting superiority, and I view grace towards me as a deficiency highlighter.
Why do (not always, but sometimes) our friends on the street resist and reject our loving, genuine and sincere (not always, sometimes) advances to help them and see them as better off? Well, why do our friends in the suburbs refuse the same support when they are struggling with work-aholism? Bad parenting? Failing relationships? Pornography addiction? Anorexia? Pride, bitterness, jealousy, etc. etc. etc. etc.
Maybe it’s not just a “homeless person thing”. Maybe it’s not their pride that holds them back. Maybe it’s all of our pride. I feel as though (form my limited and narrow scope) that CB has taught me something vital about the state of humanity: people are prideful, bitter, and presumptive, and it’s our weaknesses and flaws that we don’t want admitted or exposed that often repress us more than anyone or anything else. To quote Barbara Brown Taylor, “If I had to name my disability, I would call it an unwillingness to fall … This reluctance signals the mistrust of the central truth of the Christian gospel: life springs from death, not only at the last but also in the many little deaths along the way. When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there — not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene — promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall.”
I wonder if the serious implications of refusing our help to our friends who are left cold, hungry, and un-sheltered on the street can be realized for us. Surely these things aren’t proportional in the physical realm. But what about in the emotional, spiritual, and social realms? I would argue, and have experienced, spiritual, emotional, and social wasting-homelessness, if you will (the absence of comfort, protection, safety, and joy)- due to my own inability to help myself out of jams that partly I, partly the world, partly others were responsible for, but that I, fully, denied the reality or importance of, out of laziness and a denial of my own fallibility.
As Lindsey her mom and I walked on, I saw an old, and dear friend whom I haven’t heard from since Pat and I had seen him in Wacker months and months and months ago. Last we saw him he was trying to get out to Wayside. We tried to help, he got arrested. We didn’t really hear from him since then (that I can recall). Out of the blue he shows up, broken, desperate, hurting, and wants to go back to Wayside. My prayer is that he doesn’t let the flaw of not trusting in God’s ability, willingness and desire to transform our brokenness into His glory, get in the way of allowing God to transform his brokenness, into HIS glory.
2 Timothy 2:11-13. “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Even when our pride causes us to be faithless to our Father who promises that our humility, faith, and repentance will result in our good and His glory, “He will remain faithful for HE cannot disown Himself”.