Doing Church: It is a Beautiful, Awkward, Messy Thing.

mentorshipAs Christians, we take the command to love and help each other seriously.  The communion of the saints is alive and well for sure. Most of us are more than willing to help our hurting brothers and sisters.  We care so deeply for each other that we often say to our hurting brothers and sisters, “If you need anything don’t hesitate to call me.” 
And we mean it.
From the bottom of our hearts.
I have said similar phrases to people who are struggling, hurting, sick etc., as I am sure most of you have.  And I meant it from the bottom of my heart…but most of the time I never receive a call from the hurting person.  So, since they never called or asked for help, I naturally thought that they must be doing ok.  And I never followed up.
But from my own experiences, I have learned recently that I could be going about it all wrong.
In the past few months of struggling with depression, I too have received a number of similar offers.  “If you need to talk…”  If you want to go for coffee…” “Let me know if you want to go…” “Call me if there is anything you need…”
Now to clarify, I appreciate all the offers. It means a lot to have people offer to help. I love you all and I know that the offers are all sincere.  I know you truly do care, but I never called you…and I was not doing OK. 
Perhaps it is partially due to my being an intense introvert. I mean, you want me to call you? Really? The phone is my enemy on good days. On bad days? When the darkness waxes? When depression has kicked in?  There is no way I am going to call you. Sorry. Please don’t take it personally.
Or perhaps it is a sort of twisted pride at work in my heart. I don’t want to be a burden to you, so I think I can do it myself.   But I can’t, and I don’t. Pride happens alot actually. We don’t want to appear weak in front of our church friends, so we just cover it up with a plastic Sunday smiles, polished shoes, and pretend that everything is OK.  How many of us take pride in the fact that we did not have to go to the deacons during a hard time, or accept “hand outs”, or we exclaim, “We did it ourselves.”?  That is nothing to be proud of!  The Church should be the first place we go when we are in need, whether it is physical, financial, spiritual… 
I digress…
And then there were those people who just did it.  Those who just awkwardly jumped into the mess…head first…without regard for their own safety – or sanity. Without really asking if they could. Those who came over with a coffee, or a meal, or a hug, or even who made a definite plan: “Tuesday at 8pm, my place.  Your kids will be in bed, you have nothing going on, come on over. No excuses.”  The best was, “I need a hand with something, can you come over this evening and help me?”  When I arrived to assist with the assumed to be arduous task, the thought went through my head, “Hey.  Waitaminute…you don’t need help with this, a child could do this…oh…I see what you are doing…deceptive, but effective. Thanks.”  He got me off my butt to help with a menial task, and in the process I was able to talk with someone who cared. 
Love each other, not just in words but in deeds. It is what Jesus did.  He did not simply say, “Hey, if you can’t find your way give me a call.”  No.  He went out and found us! While we were drowning, he dove into our mess, head first, and dragged us out. That’s what Roman’s 5 teaches us, that while we were yet sinners, while we were dead in our sins, while there was nothing of worth to be found in us…Christ died for us.  That’s love.  
Father Changing Baby's DiaperSo, pondering all this, I have decided it is time to change tactics.  I am no longer going to simply say, “If you need anything don’t hesitate to call me.”  Yes that is still a valid offer, and shows that we care, but if your brother broke his leg,  just go mow his lawn or take out his trash. He can’t do it, so if you can, go do it. The same is true of people who just had a baby, whether they think (or say) they need help or not – just go do it. Love on people.  If your sister had surgery, if someone lost a loved a one, if someone struggles with chronic illness, be it mental or physical… Bring meals, wash dishes, offer to babysit, pray. Dive into the mess, head first, despite the awkwardness.
Church. It is a beautiful, awkward, messy thing. What are you waiting for? Dive in.  
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. ~ Galatians 6:10

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  1. canuck says:

    Very well put!

  2. James Wise says:

    LOVE THIS! You nailed it on the head!

    As someone who recently went through a rough patch I have such an appreciation for the small, small hand full of men who sat me down, took me to coffee, invited me to something lame…those are the one who I leaned on, and I am ever-so-grateful. Those men even became the ones I sent a text to one day that said, “Do not ask me about how I am doing today. I need to know that there is going to be 1 person I know who is not going to ask me that.” – and of course they did it, they pulled me aside, gave me a hug or a good game…whichever was appropriate. They carried me…I hope I am the same kind of man, because I needed them…and I survived the storm because they were my anchors.