I haven’t blogged in a long while. But on this early morning, I am troubled. I am troubled because I am someone who cares about others. The troubling part is telling the difference between helping someone and rescuing someone. You see, if you help someone, then they should learn to do for themselves. But when you rescue someone, they do not always understand the gravity of the rescue or how to change the behavior which landed them in trouble in the first place. I am thinking in particular about a friend I have. She is so emotionally broken right now and therefore not functioning very well in society. I think back to the time when I was so very broken, and wanted someone to rescue me. In the end, there were some things I had to learn and believe in. It was an excruciating process. I don’t think anyone could have sped that up for me.
Let me be more specific. One of my friends is homeless. She has off and on for the past 6 years. As Christians, or just someone who cares about humanity, we think, “Give her a place to live, get her back on her feet, some sort of job with an income and her life will start falling into place.” I have learned that problems go so much deeper than the physical problems of homelessness. The problem is being broken–downright shattered. The problem is believing that you are not worthy of a home, love, or the happiness that this world offers. How do you fix that?
I am not sure that you can fix that. Learning to accept love is a process that you must learn to believe on your own. No one can gift you “learned to accept love.” No one can make you accept love or make you believe you are worthy of love. That is a journey one has to make by themselves. They may even know intellectually that they should receive what life has to offer, but emotionally they just can not. This is the position my friend finds herself– believing she is worthy of nothing. That could not be farther than the truth.
We can clothe her, give her food and shelter, but that does not fix the problem. People have stepped up and really tried to mentor her and meet her needs. And it looks good on paper for a few weeks. But the cycle repeats itself because she has not learned to accept love. Her emotional needs are more than I can fix. It will take the Great Physician’s touch before she learns to accept love.
So then, how do I help her and others like her? For now, I can only meet a few of her needs: a few physical items and to walk along side of her whispering words of encouragement, truth and love. She does not know it, but she has already touched so many lives with her story. If she were to disappear (which I don’t want her to do), her legacy would live on because she has left a fingerprint on society–she is that important that God uses her, and by using her, is trying to get her to see He loves her. Oh, sweet one, do you not realize you are radically loved or believe in the words of Jer. 29? God whispers love to you, yes you.
From Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning: (One of my favorite books)
“A while back Roslyn [my wife] and I took a day off and decided to play in the French Quarter here in New Orleans. We roamed around Jackson Square sampling gumbo, inhaling jambalaya, and finally stopping at the Haagen-Dazs shrine for the piece de resistance— a praline-pecan Creole hot-fudge sundae that induced a short lived seizure of pleasure.
As we turned the corner on Bourbon Street, a girl with a radiant smile, about twenty-one years old, approached us, pinned a flower on our jackets, and asked if we would like to make a donation to support her mission. When I inquired what her mission was, she replied, “The Unification Church.”
“Your founder is Doctor Sun Myung Moon, so I guess that means you’re a Moonie?”
“Yes,” she answered.
Obviously she had two strikes against her. First she was a pagan who did not acknowledge Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Second, she was mindless, witless, naive, and vulnerable kid who had been brainwashed by a guru and mesmerized by a cult.
“You know something , Susan?” I said. “I deeply admire your integrity and your fidelity to your conscience. You’re out here tramping the street doing what you really believe in. You are a challendge to anyone who claims the name ‘Christian.’ ”
Roslyn reach out and embraced her, and I embraced the two of them.
“Are you Christians?” she asked.
Roslyn said, “yes.”
She lowered her head and we saw tears falling on the sidewalk. A minute later she said, “I’ve been on my mission here in the Quarter for eight days now. You’re the first Christians who have ever been nice to me. The others have either looked at me with contempt or screamed and told me that I was possessed by a demon. One woman hit me with her Bible.” “
Think on this for a minute and ask how you would have responded to Susan. Why as Christians do we not tend to reflect God’s love? I think Brennan Manning’s response is the exception, not the ordinary response. However, I think it should be the standard response from Christians. We are here to discover and then reflect God’s love. How can we do that if we are hitting someone else over the head with a bible, either figuratively or literally?
I personally think it has to do with what phase we are on in our journey. Peter Scazzero in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality states that there are six stages of faith. Stages one through three deal with awareness, learning and serving. Then Peter says we hit The Wall. The Wall is where we challenge our faith, usually through some crisis in our life where we are stuck at some “Dark Night of the Soul.”
Once we emerge from The Wall, Scazzero says, “we are free from judging others.” Then we go on to stages four, five and six which deal with learning to be transformed into God’s Love. This is the place we need to strive to be in Christianity. We need to see each other with the value of the soul. However, Scazzero also says that not everyone does not make it to the other side of the wall. Some Christians live their whole life in stages one, two or three. The wall is uncomfortable and they retreat to a former place of comfort. I think this is a major problem. So many of us do not mature after hitting our wall. We choose to stay where we are comfortable (back to the pool of Bethesda).
So how do we get to the latter, more mature stages? Do we have to hit a wall? I think we have to at least question our relationship with Christ and the Father. Although that questioning often comes during crisis, perhaps one can come to that level of questioning without having crisis. When you come out of the wall, you define yourself as one loved by Christ and that you must be a reflection of that love. Gone is the judgmental notions of those who are of different religions, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill.
Have you hit the wall in your spiritual journey? Have you come out on the other side? How are you different now? How would you respond to Susan, the Moonie?