Whatever you do don’t do this…

Of course it happened, I knew it would, I’ve actually come to expect it.

My wife lost her job this week, this is the 3rd job that she has lost in the last year and a half. It’s horrible especially for her because of how it makes her feel about herself, but her losing her job isn’t the thing that I have come to expect to happen. No, it’s what always comes after, what always comes after any kind of crisis.

“Just remember to be strong.:

“Cheer up, God has a great plan for your life.”

“when God closes a door he opens a window”

“You should be thankful for what you DO have”

“You’re strong you can get through anything”

“God will never give you something you can’t handle”

Whoa…..

WHOA…..

Wait……… STOP!!!!!!!!!

Just STOP a second

We all have well meaning friends who, when they hear about something horrible happening in our lives, a lost job, a death, cancer, bills we can’t get paid, they begin spouting these little rays of sunshine at us.

It’s like advice but it’s not really advice… they’re meant to be encouraging but they leave you feeling anything but courageous.

If we’re really honest we’ve all probably said some of these things ourselves to others.

The intention are always good don’t get me wrong… But seriously, some of these sayings are just downright horrible, and false.

When I decided I wanted to write this post after seeing countless people say one or more of these cliches to my wife and myself I asked some of my Facebook friends to share some of the worst they’ve heard. The list is a sampling of some of the responses I got. I mean where do we begin?

“Just remember to be stong”, “You’re strong you can get through anything.” How bout we start with these? I mean in many cases this ight be technically correct, I know my wife is certainly strong she has weathered a lot through her years on earth but she is also discouraged. She has lost 3 jobs in a row in less than 2 years. Maybe reminding someone of their strength when they are hurting isn’t the best way to go about supporting someone.

“When God closes a door he opens a window.” What does this even mean? If a door is closed I’m supposed to find a window to crawl through? Perhaps I am not even supposed to visit that house. Sometimes horrible things happen and there are no open doors, open windows, heck there isn’t even a place to hide while tragedy bears down on you.

“God has a plan for your life.” While this is true, God has a plan for all of our lives when we state this we forget the free radical agent of sin and brokenness. Was it God’s plan for my brother to die all alone in a field? Was it God’s plan for one of my Facebook friends not be able to make her rent? Is it Gods plan for me to eat too much when stress gets the better of me? Now I believe that God will redeem all of the horrible things that happen but it’s just bad theology to say that it was all a part of God’s plan. It certainly doesn’t make anyone FEEL better. “I know you have lung cancer but don’t worry it’s all part of God’s plan.” “Well great, thanks for that God. Glad to know you love me so much as to afflict me with a horrible wasting disease.” It’s just wrong, stop saying it.

“God will never give you something you can’t handle”. I don’t even know where to start with this one. First of all IT’S NOT TRUE!! It’s not ion The Bible, go ahead go look I’ll wait here.

Can’t find it? That’s because it’s not there! The verse that you think says this is speaking about temptation. It’s 1 Corinthians 10:13   No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

That’s not about trials, it’s not about getting sick or losing your house or having someone you love die or losing your job it’s about resisting temptation. Every time I hear someone say this garbage I want to smack them upside the head with Young’s ANalytical Concordance..

So if all of these are horrible things to say how can we react to bad news?

Well for starters, don’t say anything. Listen. Hear(or read) everything the person has to say. Digest it, think about it, put yourself in their shoes.

If you do speak just start by telling the person that you’ve heard them, that you’re there for them. Be honest about your feelings, tell them that what they are going through sucks. Tell them you wish it would not happen.

you can try to get them talking more, ask open ended questions, clarify what they are feeling. “It sounds like you’re pretty overwhelmed” A few questions like this will help you to get to the root of the issue. ‘

Most importantly though pray. Pray with them but if they don’t want to pray than pray for them. The best thing that we can don for anyone who is in crisis mode is to bring them before God in prayer.

You’ll mess this up, we all will, but having a few tools in place can help you really be there for the people you love who are hurting. Mostly they want to know they’re not alone. Anyone can give them that assurance.

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Engaged?

On Tuesday nights my wife and I play a game together of some sort. Cards, Yahtzee, strategy type games, as long as it’s fun and can be played by two people we will do it. One of the things I’ve noticed though is that, even though we both consider this to be special time just for the two of us to connect with each other we never have our phones too far. When there is a lull in the action one or both of us will be looking at something on facebook, or checking something on Google, we have those phones near us like they are somehow sustaining our lives.

It makes me wonder just how much this happens in my life.

Like watching a movie, now that I have a smart phone I can easily get on IMDB and read interesting tidbits about the movie I am currently watching.

I can  place my earbuds in and fire up songza on my walk, cause God knows the sounds of actual nature are not enough to make me forget I am working out right?

First thing I do when I wake up? I check in on Facebook. Just in case I missed an important update at 3 in the morning.

What is the name of this song I am hearing in my car? Fire up Soundhound and you can find out.

Everywhere I go, everything thing I find myself doing is always accompanied by the little palm sized computer that we are calling phones these days.

I’m guilty of this and it bugs me.

I don’t feel like I am engaged in the relationships and happenings of my day to day enough.

It’s really easy for me, an autistic person who has trouble with people, to find excuses to cast my eyes downward on my phone.

I use the same excuse for my phone checking that I used to use when telling people I didn’t want to take naps, I was afraid I was going to miss out on something. That’s why I enjoy social media so much right? Because it allows me the chance to never miss out!

Yet the more I see this as a problem the more I am convinced that I AM missing out. I am missing out big time. I mean we can’t even just enjoy a movie anymore, the story, the characters, the camera work. We have to read about the movie while we are watching it.

A couple months ago I took a fast from Social Media and there was a a part of me that felt like I was indeed missing out but there was another part of me that felt more connected than I ever do while I am on social media.

I am not saying that social media is bad, it’;s not it’s a great tool and it’s awesome to be able to connect with so many people but call me crazy I might just start turning off my phone a lot more. Spending more time in the moments that life offers instead of watching pixels on a screen

I think that’s how God intended life to play out, in the present, in community, with other people who are actually in the same room as us.

I hope we don’t forget how to do that or what it means.

My friend Jason is having an online garage sale

The first thing I would like to tell you is I am not being compensated at all for my post here, I consider Jason Boyett a friend and if I can help him out In will. A few years ago he wrote a book called The Pocket Guide to The Bible. It is a heavily researched book that serves well as an introduction to what the bible is and how it works. I think the best part about the book though is it’s not bland or boring to read, Jason peppers the entire book with insight and humor. I really don’t think there is anything else like it in print.

I met Jason online about 2 and a half year ago when my wife got me one of his books. “O Me of Little Faith” for my Birthday. I loved it, I was so encouraged to find out that there were people out there who were just like me, who loved God but weren’t always sure whether he existed and weren’t afraid to admit that but also they were not afraid to still believe anyway. Not long after I read the book I found him on Facebook and against his better judgement he became my friend and though we’ve never met we’ve been good internet friends ever since.

2 years ago when my friend Sean came down with inoperable cancer which took his life I felt the need to do what I could for his wife and 4 kids so I staged an event to raise funds. Jason wasted no time in offering signed copies of most of his books including a whole book of Pocket Guide to The Bible which we gave away as thank you gifts to people who helped. We also have some that are still left that we give to new members of our church for free.

Jason originally ordered 9,000 copies of Pocket Guide. Most of them have been sold but he has 1400 still left which have been in a storage space for awhile but he lost that space last week and the remaining 1400 copies are sitting in boxes in his garage.

This isn’t the kind of book that is supposed to sit in boxes in a garage, this is the kind of book that needs to be read,

SO for my friend Jason I am asking that you’d consider heading over here and buying some copies of his book. You can get an entire box for only a dollar a book(those come 48 books to a box) If you are feeling really generous you can get an entire box of 75 copies for $70 and there are about 45 individually prices books for $4 each. These books can be useful to give to new believers, non believers or people that just need a thoughtful and entertaining introduction to scripture. Each and every copy will be signed by Jason himself.

We need to get these sold in 2 weeks so please help out in anyway that you can. Thanks guys.

Expiration Date

I’ve always been the kind of guy who thinks an awful lot about death. When, how, why? Many of those questions we just don’t have the answers to but if there is one thing that we can all agree on it’s this

There is an expiration date.

This world has an expiration date. It doesn’t matter what worldview you hold, which theology you ascribe to or even if you don’t believe in spiritual things at all we know for sure that this world will not last forever. The most generous observation is that we have a few billion years left but someday our sun will die out but before it does it will get much hotter than it already is and all life will be wiped out on this planet. Everything we know or have come to hold sacred will burn and be turned to ash. This world has an expiration date, we don’t know when but the clock is ticking.

We each have an expiration date as well. Someday, someway, something will get us. Heart attacks or cancer or car crashes or drowning or fire. We all place our bets each day that we are live. As much as we would like to believe otherwise sooner or later we’ll remember how mortal we are.

A friend of mine at the small church I go to had his number come up last week. On Saturday we will gather and mourn and remember and celebrate the life of who we came to know as Bill.  We’ll also be reminded that someday those that love us will gather to mourn, remember and celebrate us. Death has a way of reminding us of that, This life we live is transitory, it’s fleeting, it will end and we will reach our expiration date.

As I write this, in the last week we have lost some famous people, some believers and some not. Roger Ebert, Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello. All had slow illnesses that they fought over time and all of them are now gone. But beyond the headlines, every single day, are more folks like my friend Bill. People that no one knows who are saying their last goodbyes to those of us who are left behind to carry on. Waiting for our turn, waiting for when our expiration date will come up.

A younger me, when faced with this reality rebelled against it. Refused to make true connections with people and raged against the God that set things up this way. As I have gotten older, matured and have learned more about my place in God’s kingdom I see this reality as a mere signpost. A reminded to not ever take anyone, anything or any moment for granted. Because we don’t entirely know how it ends it should make us want to not hold more tightly to other transitory people, events or things but to cherish those people events and things more.

Don Miller just posted on Facebook something that really rings true.

All the recent passings remind me life is short. Doesn’t make me want to succeed, though, makes me want to get quality time with loved ones

Just something to think about today.