Some People are Not Worthy

Some people are not worthy of our help. Or at least, that’s what we profess with our actions and attitudes. Let me throw out some hard words for you. Registered Sex Offender. Mentally ill. Homeless. Drug addicts.

Registered sex offenders deserve the death penalty. The mentally ill need to be in some kind of institution. Homeless, well, they’re homeless because they won’t work and be productive. Drug addicts? No help for them, they just want a handout so they can get more drugs.

Believe it or not, I am not going to stand on some higher moral ground and point fingers at everyone below me. These are sentiments that I subconsciously hold. Sentiments that stare me in the face every once in a while and challenge me.

I’m going to tell you a story. .

Several years ago my husband’s company moved their workshop into a new location. It happened to be in a rougher part of town. One of the first problems my husband ran into was homeless people camping out behind his shop. Somehow, in the way my husband has, he got to know one of the couples that were camping out there. He was an exconvict, a registered sex offender, his girlfriend was ex-military and was pregnant with twins. She was somewhere around the age of forty and was having difficulty with her pregnancy. They were sleeping in a tent.

Andy gave him some work and he proved to be a decent worker. Housing was a much bigger problem. As a registered sex offender he could not live anywhere near children. There was not any cheap housing that fit into the requirements and so they ended up moving into a hotel room. $200 a week. No stoves allowed.

They got married. She lost the babies in a miscarriage. I met them a couple times. She was not mentally stable and I felt very uncomfortable and unsafe around her. Registered Sex Offender, nope, you can’t come near my family. All outreaches to this couple were through my husband.

The man spent the next couple years going in and out of jail. My husband tried to help Her when he could. Some grocery money. Help with rent on occasion. He would talk to me about their problems and I would commiserate, but I really didn’t feel like there was much I could do. My ministry to people is always done in the context of my family, and this couple was not family-friendly.

While He has been in jail, Her health went downhill. She had a stroke. Had some kind of surgery. She was renting a room in a house with lots of roommates. My husband visited her and said she could hardly get around, he didn’t know how she was going to take care of herself. He had asked and she said she was working with a social worker to get help.

We found out today that at the age of forty-two, she has died. Possibly on Wednesday. People noticed they hadn’t seen her. Called the police. Her body was found on Friday. The end.

And now I analyze. Could I have done more? Should I have done more? Are there people that you just simply can’t help? Their choices have led them down a path of no return? I possibly could have helped Her, but she had married Him and so I felt like that door was closed. I have to protect my family first.

But she was a fellow human being. Once upon a time she was an adorable little baby, and perhaps people cooed over her and said, how lovely! You’re going to grow up to be a wonderful woman! And perhaps she never had that. Perhaps right now there are people who would mourn if they knew she had died. And perhaps not. What I do know is that no matter what choices she made, God loved her. I don’t know where her relationship with God was, but I do know that he loved her.

I want to share with you all the tiny sliver of her story that I know. I want to say to the world at large, this woman lived. And now she has died. Let us at least give her a moment of contemplation in honor of her life. It is all I can do for her now.

And perhaps I can issue a challenge to myself and my readers to just think about this issue for a moment…how do you help the “unworthy” ?  What can we, as a society, do to help this segment of our population that we are reluctant to interact with? Do we have any responsibility towards them? How do we be responsible and safe but still have charity for those in need?

 

 

Questions on the Nature of Peace

I just read a blog post on Peace Hacks. Here is the link: Peace Hacks The article was about the nature of peace. Is peace simply the absence of war? Are we truly at peace if we know that injustice is happening where we live? Can we truly be at peace if we make ourselves fully aware of how many people are actually starving to death, right now, while we sit here reading stuff on the internet?  

The idea is, are we at peace, or are we simply choosing to ignore the problems around us so that we can feel comfortable.

This has made me think about Peace, and about burying my head in the sand. First of all, I’m going to go ahead and give my definition of peace. For me, peace is knowing that I am right with God. My sins are forgiven, He loves me, I look forward to an eternity with Him. That is the true source of my peace. When my world seems to be unraveling, that is what I cling to.

But what about peace in my world? Right now I do not feel like the world is at peace. The news shows a very rigid divide between political parties. It feels very much like people are choosing sides and drawing lines in the sand, preparing for battle. I am horrified as I watch people make moral decisions that defy logic. I am truly frightened when I see laws being passed that erode my parental rights. I am completely boggled as I look at the upcoming presidential election. I’m not even going to go there right now.

I look around and think, maybe we should move. Surely there is another country that isn’t as crazy as mine. But, if you read the news, you quickly learn that every single country in the world has got some pretty serious flaws.

And then there is all the suffering going on. Religious persecution is a very real thing, happening all over the world. Poverty at a level where people are starving to death, this is happening right now. Human trafficking is everywhere. Prejudice, injustice, foster kids in need of care, domestic violence, homelessness. All these things are happening right here, in my city. And I sit in my house, occupied with the very tame jobs of washing dishes, cooking meals, entertaining children.

What is my responsibility as a human being, as a Christian?

I find that when I read the news regularly, stay up-to-date with all the horrors that are happening,  I start feeling very anxious, afraid. Unsettled. Overwhelmed. I don’t like feeling that way. And so I withdraw. I stop reading the news. I stop engaging. I want my peace back, and so I turn my back on the world’s problems, ignore them.

Is that right though? Throughout history, time and time again, change has occurred when a person, a group of people, say, That is enough. This is wrong. We must stop this. Isn’t it our responsibility to be one of those people?

But there has to be a balance. I am a wife and a mother. I have a job to create a peaceful atmosphere where my children can live in a calm, safe environment while they are developing mentally, physically, spiritually. It’s hard to create that environment when we are focusing continually on all the bad things in the world.

Let me try to sum up the problem here. I am actually looking at two kinds of peace. Peace with God, and peace in my city/region/state/country/world. How do I address the lack of peace in the world without letting it disrupt my spiritual peace, and my own little haven of peace that I’ve created in my home?

I do not want to be someone who turns a blind eye, ignores the problem, pretends it isn’t there. Nor do I want to live a life of worry and fear and stress as I get overwhelmed, feeling like I, alone, can do nothing to change what’s happening around me.

I was hoping that as I wrote this, I would come up with some conclusions. I think instead I have just defined the problem really well for myself. But, that in itself, is progress. I guess I will have to write a Part 2 for this piece when I get some insight.

 

Fine, I Won’t Give Up

meme1.png

I saw this meme on my friend’s FB today, and I was like, YES!! My thoughts exactly!! We’ve had a rough week. The Rotavirus and Adenovirus both came to visit. I have been nursing sick kids for seven days now and been sick for several of those days myself. We’ve been reduced to survival levels. Today, feeling a bit better myself, I determined it was time to catch up with some housework. We had managed to keep the downstairs livable, but the upstairs had completely fallen apart. I set the healthy children to work, thinking they would work on their chore list while I worked on mine. Right. In fact what happened was that I ended up supervising them in their chores, taking over where they completely failed at the job, and generally just stomping around in a bad mood, surrounded by kids who were in an equally bad mood. Lovely.

Of course, not choosing the moral high ground and instead letting myself completely vent my bad attitude, did not make me feel better. It just made me feel guilty. What kind of mom am I anyway? What kind of Christian am I when I am my children’s only exposure to swear words? And then, feeling guilty leads to anger. It’s not my fault! I’m doing my best here and nobody appreciates it! I finally had the common sense to turn on the tv for the kids, go in my room, shut the door and take a nap. I’m still feeling sick and I was kidding myself thinking I had enough energy to tackle a big house-cleaning day.

Post-nap, my emotions have settled down. Time to get another perspective.

Another friend posted on her blog page The Chosen Broken this quote:

meme2.png

“You have been chosen…” That sounds so Noble. Dignified. Worthy. Purposeful. I have been Chosen. Chosen to be the matriarch of my clan. Chosen to be partner to my husband. Chosen to serve the people in my sphere. It’s a calling.

”…you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.” When you see the name J.R.R. Tolkien, you immediately think of epic adventures full of danger, excitement, great challenge. In this epic adventure called life I need everything I’ve got to keep pressing on, keep moving, tackle the next mountain, ford the next raging river. I think about all the gifts and talents that God has given me. Stubbornness. Who knew how valuable that characteristic could be? Kid, you might be stubborn, but I can out-stubborn you any day, you will do what I ask you to do if it takes us all day and night to make it happen. Responsibility. This is a heavy one, but it gets things done. I’m laying in bed sick, it’s suppertime, kids are hungry. I get out of bed and make supper. They’re my kids, my responsibility to make sure they get fed. Sense of humor. I couldn’t survive without this one. If you can’t laugh at yourself and your circumstances, seems like life would be rather miserable.

There’s a bible passage in Ephesians 6: 10-20 that talks about the armor of God. Not only does God equip us with natural gifts and talents that help us with our challenges, he also gives us supernatural armor to protect us. I need that today. The helmet of salvation. I need to remember that my sins are forgiven, my future entails eternity with Jesus. I need the belt of truth, God’s word is alive and well and powerful.

I hate this day. Ok, but the Bible says in Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

Life stinks. Ok, but the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

You get the idea.

Step by step, I read through the armor of God, think about what it means, apply it to my situation.

I have been chosen. This life is a quest and right now we’re going through some rough waters. But I’ve also been equipped with everything I need to battle on through, and one day, I will be victorious. As the old hymn says,

What a day that will be,

When my Jesus I shall see,

And I look upon His face,

The One who saved me by His grace;

When He takes me by the hand,

And leads me through the Promised Land,

What a day, glorious day that will be.

 

Till then, we battle on, using what strength, heart, and wits that we have.