(Walk through doors of church.)
Me: (Hmmm, there’s a smiling face). Good morning! I’m good, how are you?
Me: (Uh oh, can you say grumpy? Looks like she just lost her best friend. Just throw out a fake smile and keep on walking).
Holy Spirit: You know you could’ve stopped and given a real hug, asked how she’s doing and at least tell her you’ll be praying for her.
Me: Yeah, but I probably would’ve forgotten by the time I got to my seat.
Holy Spirit: Well, you could’ve taken the time right then and there to pray for her.
Me: (No response) Oh hey, sister. How are you doing this morning?
Sister: Hey! I’m doing good. So are you okay with us not really having a say so in what goes on around here? I know – I don’t need to be stirring up stuff but . . .
Me: (Are you serious right now? Where did this attitude come from? Just let me get away from this person.)
Holy Spirit: You know she’s had a rough past. She’s probably struggling with bitterness.
Me: I know, but I thought she was a bigger person than that. I’m so disappointed right now. She just needs to get over it.
Holy Spirit: Have you forgotten where you came from? Have you forgotten how long it took you to let go of your past, to find you sense of self-worth and “get over it?”
Holy Spirit: Did you think that maybe I allowed your paths to cross this morning so you could be praying for her? It may be that a door will open and you’ll be able to share your story and minister to her.
Me: I guess not. I really need to work on my prayer life. I mean, we converse all the time, but I’ve been kind of slack in praying for others. I’ll work on that.
Holy Spirit: You know, if you’re wanting me to use you to help other women, you have to be sensitive to my leading. You have to show compassion to them instead of turning a cold shoulder and feeling like you don’t have time for them. They may disappoint you, but then that would be all about you. You should be moved by compassion just as Jesus was.
Me: True, but I just get tired of seeing such sad, gloomy Christians with bad attitudes. I know I haven’t walked in her particular situation, or anybody’s situation for that matter, but I’ve been through some tough stuff too, some of which nobody knows about. I know there’s a way to get past the bitterness and the hurt. She’s in a good church and preaches the uncompromised word of God, but yet she chooses to carry this bitterness around with her.
Holy Spirit: Then you also know things aren’t as simple as you make them out to be. Things take time. How many times did you wish someone could look inside and see the hurt you were going through and just be a friend to you?
Me: I guess sometimes I think I’ve come to a place in life and all of a sudden I realize I’m not where I thought I was. Something happens or someone says the wrong thing – unintentionally – and I take it personally. I get easily offended when those certain buttons get pushed and now I see I’m not where I thought I was. I know I still have those vulnerable spots and the enemy knows where they are and he knows how to push them. However, that’s not an excuse for me to be uncompassionate towards others. Instead of being critical or getting disappointed I need to be saying “Okay God, you put this person in front of me and I know that there’s a need here, so I lift them up to you. I ask, Father God, that You would minister Your peace to them, that You would reveal to them things that You would have them to know and do to get rid of this bitterness,” and then even take it a step further and say “Lord, even if I can even be an instrument in Your hands then let me be that instrument. I’m willing to do whatever You need me to do for this person.” I guess this is about more than the external side I see in people. It’s more about getting past my own self and looking through God’s eyes. It’s about discerning opportunities You put in front of me and looking beyond the surface and being willing to be used by You.
I guess sometimes the reason we’re easily offended is because it strikes a bad chord. It reminds of our past, our feelings of insignificance and worthlessness. It reminds us of our failures. It’s during these times we find ourselves looking for a friend – not for pity but just a friend to remind us of where we’ve come from and where we are now. When someone sees past the outside and knows we’re hurting on the inside and the Holy Spirit gives them just the right words we need to hear instead, that’s compassion. It’s not being thrown a fake smile or given a cold shoulder; it’s saying “What can I do? Let me pray for you.”
The phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” keeps coming to mind. If I want God to use me in a ministry for women then I can’t turn a cold shoulder and a hard heart to them. I can’t say, “You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Sometimes it takes another hand to pull them up because sometimes they can’t even find their bootstraps, and when they can’t find their bootstraps, maybe – just maybe – I need to be that servant that kneels down and helps them up, even if it’s just to hand them their bootstraps.
Lesson learned. Lord forgive me as I’ve failed miserably this time, but I won’t next time.
Holy Spirit: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I would encourage you to reflect over the past few weeks and months and see if there were any lost opportunities, and if there are try to make them your last.
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)