A couple of days ago, I got a phone call from a loved one with discouraging news.
I was shocked and I couldn’t gather my thoughts together and make sense of what happened or how to respond. I finally had to end our call so I could process the news.
I thought about the conversation with my loved ones, and why I couldn’t respond. After thinking about it a bit, I realized that my first thoughts were about me and not them. In other words, I was making their news all about my feelings, thoughts and concerns. I wasn’t thinking about how this would affect them except by way of how it was affecting me.
One of the hard parts about being willing to do the work of making ourselves better is discovering really embarrassing things about ourselves. This was one of those embarrassing moments for me… 😳
It’s NOT About YOU!
This is the lesson I (re) learned this week. When you make it about you, you can’t respond to those who are hurting. You can’t mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. You can’t lift the hands that hang down or strengthen the feeble knees. You can only worry about how it will affect you.
Thinking about ourselves first is a very common reaction from those of us who have loved ones who have left the church. We get wrapped up in how this news affects us. How we are going to look at church, how we are going to respond when our loved one wants to bring home their girl or boyfriend to stay overnight with us, how much we are hurting.
We do need space to process these things, but if we want to maintain a strong connection with our loved ones, we really need to have the eyes and the heart to see how this information is affecting them. What do they think about what others are thinking and talking about them? Are they afraid that we will reject their girl or boyfriend? Where are their pains?
I called my loved ones back that afternoon and apologized for my reaction and told them that I wanted to be supportive of them, but I wasn’t very good at it yet, and asked for their understanding and patience. When I hung up, my brain was able to start thinking of ways that I could support them, because I was making it about them (the people with the problem) and NOT about how it would affect me.
For a few minutes after our phone conversation, I was able to bask in the glow of being someone who was learning to walk the talk of all the things I am learning for myself and teaching others. This is what it feels like to be a follower of Christ.
It’s taken a long time working on myself and practicing to start catching on to myself sooner than I used to. I am still a work in progress…