Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Compassionate Fools

Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore become imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]; and walk continually in love [that is, value one another—practice empathy and compassion, unselfishly seeking the best for others], just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God [slain for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. 

So.... funny story... but first: a story. 

A few days ago, it was just one of those nights with the kids. They've been super congested, cranky, and generally being... hard to handle.  After a long night with our youngest, the oldest decides to sleep in the bathroom, and decides he hates life and doesn't want to go to school again ever.

It was a rough morning. In my routine of getting children dressed, diapered/underweared, and remembering to put on actual pants, I forgot to put on my wedding ring before I left the house. Shocking, right? I was just happy that I found two of the same shoe.

Fast forward a smidgen... drop a now incredibly happy little boy off at "his most favorite place" and I head to Walmart. With the baby snuggled in his carrier, I wandered a little bit, and found myself -where else?- in the baby aisles. I gaze over the medicines, hoping to find something new and wonderful that will instantly let my children sleep and not be congested, and I remark on the price of Baby Motrin. It was almost $8. I let out a sarcastic, "Who can buy this crap? How can people do this?"

And, the strangest thing happened... A lady, whom I've never seen before, nor care to again, just looks at me and says, "Well, then, get a husband."

Really? 

Now, I know this is hard for you all to believe, but I'm a naturally sardonic individual. I have a filter in place because I don't want to go to jail. In any normal sense, I'd have comeback with something witty and sarcastic... but I was so speechless.

When I remarked on FB about this story, I was amazed and saddened by what I read. Even when everyone was coming to my defense, I noticed a common theme:

People were finding reasons why I could have been "justifiably single" or simply forgotten my ring.

It broke me. It broke me in half. 

We were all doing it - myself included... 

We were looking for reasons to justify why someone should have been given compassion.

Oh, God forgive us. 

Let me ask you this: what if I had sold that ring for drugs? What if I got fired from my job because I was lazy and rude to customers and that's why I was broke? What if I had just moved into town with no real plan, job or options and spent my last dime going out with my friends in a farewell party?

 Would you look at me and think, "Well, that's what you get"?

Would you tell my child that?

I told you that story so I could tell you another story.

I started a page for those who want to commit themselves to give something away every day for thirty days (You can read more about that here) but I got a message from a young man who was needing to get food for his family. They were going to get food stamps that next week, after he got his pay stubs, but they had 3 boys, and just needed food. I got this message as I was on my way to Aldi's to get food. Coincidence? Not one little bit. I went in for coffee and juice, and spent like $60. But it was several meals, and I knew God wanted me to do this for them. I drove to their house, and immediately noticed something...

The house reeked of cigarette smoke.

That is one of my biggest pet peeves in the world: people that whine about being broke, and continue to smoke cigarettes.

Admittedly, I didn't stay any longer than I had to. I felt like I had been played. "Have a great day" was all I could get out before leaving.

And then I did the very same thing I hated: I was looking for reasons that they were "justifiably poor." Maybe they haven't smoke in forever, it just still smells like that? Maybe all of the furniture was also donated and the owners were smokers? Maybe it's just an old house that smells weird? 

It didn't make me more understanding. It made me more self-righteous. I was looking for a reason that they somehow were worthy of what I did for them.

Oh, God help me. That is so unbelievably prejudiced and pious. 

I dug myself deeper into the hole also: "Those kids got to eat a good dinner." I told myself, and "that's what matters."

NO!

It's not even about the "good" that I did. It's not even about the kids! It wouldn't matter if the dad turned around, sold the food, and used the money for crack!

God. 

God is a God so full of grace and mercy that we get so wrapped in it that we can't find our way out of it. Even when we head straight towards rebellion, He never once asks us if we "learned our lesson." He just wants to love us. Now, our repentance makes us ask for help. It turns us to Him. But it doesn't change a thing of who God is. When we get adopted into the family, nothing we do makes us more or less a Child of God.

We're not more saved. We're not more forgiven. We're not more anything. What Christ did is enough.

When Jesus healed the sick, the lame, the sinners, there was no "now did we learn our lesson?" There was only "I love you. I forgive you. I'm cleansing you so you don't have to live in heartache anymore." There was only compassion - for no other reason than that is who God is. 

May God forgive me for me putting others into a fake justified box, so that it fits better with my feelings. May I stop using mercy and compassion as some kind of bargaining chip so I feel like I did a good job.

And may I use compassion on everyone equally.

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