I find people fascinating. One of my favourite holiday pastimes is sitting, preferably in a café, people watching. Not only do we come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, we come with an amazing mix of personality and characters yet we have at least one thing in common: we all go through stuff. Life, and here is a thought, our heavenly Father, brings to us things we would rather not have to handle or face.
Whether it is issues relating to health, (to be clear, Father does not bring sickness or illness on us) relationships, work, or in our own heads and hearts we have to handle and process situations, circumstances or conditions that can’t be avoided and have to be faced. As someone once said “there are some mountains you just have to climb” (Matthew 21:21).
So the question is, how do you handle the stresses and strains of 21st Century life? Are you a hermit, keeping everyone out, retreating to a safe place and coming out again when you have processed or buried what you are handling? Or are you one of those who openly displays their life on their sleeves for all to see? Or are you, like so many, somewhere in between?
No doubt our ‘ologists can explain why we behave the way we do and yes there are some things that are down to us to get on and deal with ourselves; however there is for us a better way to handle life’s difficulties.
Our conventional greeting goes something like this:- Hi, how are you? This is followed by the almost automatic response I’m fine thank you, and you? Our masks remain firmly in place, no chinks in our armour ….. Perhaps, especially as followers of Jesus, part of our coming to maturity in Christ is to learn to dispense with those pesky masks.
We have been placed in the Body of Christ and added to a specific congregation, a family of God’s people and as part of that family we are there to look out for and support one another. A family who we can learn to trust and be open and honest with and from whom we can receive help, support and most of all be loved. I am not suggesting we open our lives to everyone but to those we have developed a deep strong relationship of trust. *1
Women have historically been better at this and a good example of this is the play “The Steamie”. Men generally speaking give nothing away! And it seems to me that in our digitally connected age we can have a million friends yet feel alone and lonely.
My point is this, let us “be there” for one another and let us have the faith and confidence to take off our masks and if we are not fine then say so, as the reality is if one part of the family is struggling the whole family is affected. *2
Perhaps we can take things a step further and be proactive in our care for one another. *3; *4
And finally, if you don’t want an honest answer, if you are not prepared to love..… Don’t ask !
But it’s fine not to be fine!
*1 Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
*2 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
*3 Philippians 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
*4 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.