Strengthening the Soul (9)

I really felt ashamed at the end of that day. But, I learned something that I have never forgotten.classroom_desks.jpg

I was in the fourth grade. “Jane” sat in the chair behind me. She often drooled on her desk. She was blond, lanky, and physically challenged. She had difficulty with coordination and often fell down on the playground during recess. On those occasions, she sometimes returned to class with skinned and bloody knees.

One day, the class was returning from recess. Several boys were walking into the classroom and began making fun of Jane. I was already in my chair. They laughed and then I laughed. A few seconds later I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around and Jane was looking at me with such a sad look.

“You are my friend and you laughed!”

I felt sick. No excuse. No justification. No good reason. All I knew to do was to say, “I’m sorry.” That sounded pretty small and lame given what I had done. I had betrayed her.

How in the world could I have done something like this? How could I have laughed at someone who had so many obstacles to overcome and only wanted a friend? The truth is that I got caught up in the moment and ignored what was really important.

Now, in 2010, I know that it is still possible to get caught up in whatever is taking place at the moment and forget what is important in life.

Instead of letting the momentum of the moment determine what I do or say, I would like to define the moment:

  • I want to create space in my life for people like Jane. I would like to make room for the disadvantaged, the poor, and those who face many obstacles.
  • I want to make a difference in the world instead of allowing others who speak loudly or forcefully to fill my mind with negative, defeatist thoughts about present and future possibilities.
  • I want to be intentional with the choices in my life instead of taking the path of least resistance.


Question:

I would love to hear your thoughts about this. When do you tend to get caught up in the moment? What has helped you, at times, to move beyond this temptation?   

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Strengthening the Soul (9)

  1. For the last twenty-eight years my best friend has been a paraplegic woman. I met her at a local college when I was trying to learn how to use one of those new computers that just came out on the market. It was winter and her wheelchair was stuck in the ice plus the oil had frozen. After I got a maintenance man to free her and get her inside we when out for lunch and have been friends every since. I’ve learned more from her than anyone I’ve ever known. She was paralyzed from the chest down by the age of eleven yet she always has a smile and something cheerful and positive to say. I learned that by walking slow enough for her to keep up I’ve seen things I never noticed before and enjoy them more. She is always a lady. She never holds a grudge and I have never once ever heard her raise her voice to anyone. She needs help just getting in and out of bed, she has someone come to clean her house, etc. yet she has so much to offer. People who race on by and ignore her don’t know what they are missing.

    • Linda– Oh my! What a wonderful friend you have! This sounds like such a valuable relationship-for you both. So glad you told this story.

  2. Jim…I appreciate your thoughts. Over the years, I have seen those in the church who are socially awkward or different be ignored or even shunned by the majority of believers. We must be secure in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to be Jesus to all people…and to the world. I very much appreciate those who have the heart of Jesus, and are filled with His Spirit, who care for all people…those who are like them and those who are different from them. One of my good friends from my college days, Dale, blessed me and many others…he was Jesus to me. Dale was blind, but he led the way for us younger Bible students and inspired us…particularly meaningful to study Greek with him, as he read it in braille. It is something that I will always remember.

    • Don, I really like your thoughts. In fact, I think that what you have said is incredibly important for living out the Gospel. It is much easier to make the poor or disadvantaged a project that is done occasionally (or even regularly) instead of having to do the difficult work of loving and forming relationships. Those of us who are Christ-followers really do miss something when we do make the effort to connect with people who may not seem to offer us much. (I fear that sometimes we look at people in this way.) Yet, in not having these relationships, we really do miss something.

  3. Ever since I was young I stood up for and became friends with kids who were being bullied or teased. My mother taught us well that Jesus would want us to be a friend to them. When we became immigrants to Canada, we were bullied. God sent others who became my friends and helped me cope. Since youth I’ve worked in hospitals where children are going through suffering and have been able to help them. I think it’s my calling in life, although I’m no Mother Theresa! My life has been incredibly enriched by those who face unbelievable challenges in their lives, i.e. the seniors I work with – in wheelchairs, suffering a variety of dementia. I was in charge of volunteers, some of whom were physically challenged and just wanted a place to belong and be useful. In my own family I have a nephew who became paraplegic age 10 after a tobogganing accident; we’ve been blessed with two autistic grandsons; have a friend who has lived with cerebral palsy, but has her Ph.D.

    What I’ve noticed though is that those who are proud, arrogant, self-focused, self-righteous, judgmental, etc. are far more difficult to love and I need to work on that in my life.

    I’m still learning to be more intentional about NOT joining in when politicians and others are maligned. People are not fair game and are not there for us to make sport and be disrespectful of them. I know – that doesn’t leave much to poke fun at, does it, lol!! I live a dull and boring life, lol!

    • Karin, what a wonderful post! You say much throughout these three paragraphs. You are so right about those who are more difficult to love.

  4. This discussion is very powerful, Jim — I read Frank Peretti’s “The Wounded Spirit” this spring and this thought pierced me right through: How we treat those weaker IS our treating of Jesus — not *how* we treat Jesus — but IS OUR EXACT treating of Jesus.

    The discussion here deeply compels.

    Thank you, Jim….

    All’s grace,
    Ann Voskamp

    • Ann, it is good to hear from you again. Your words are convicting–and very, very true.

      (I went to your blog yesterday. Very, very nice. Has a great look and feel to it, Ann)