Facebook has this feature where you can look back on old memories and see what you posted on that day years prior. Forgetting the fact that they blatantly ripped off Time Hop, I think that it's generally a good feature to have. That is, until you stumble over some posts from the hard times.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the loss of one of my best friends. We had gotten into a fight over my birthday of all things. I had been going through a rough patch. My leg was giving me problems so that I could barely walk, my back had gone out when I was working the field at the college, My church had gone through a major split and I was trying to explain to my best friend that I needed something from him. He had moved out and was getting ready to get married and I was really excited and wanted to help him. I was always in his corner. We had worked several jobs together, lived together and hung out nearly every day for years because we had an honest to god Chandler Joey thing. I was in a bad place. It seemed that every normal and constant thing in my life had suddenly taken a cannon ball to center mass. I was feeling low, and I had asked my best friend for one thing. 1 text a week to check up on me. 1 text, once every 7 days was the only thing that I asked him for.
Over the previous years, I'd hired him at a job, got him on board at 2 other places. When he was living with his old roommate he'd over draft every month and just dig himself deeper in debt, so I loaned him money to help him get ahead. I sold this guy his first car and I taught him how to drive. I took him to church with me. I sprang for more beers and pizza than I can even count because this guy was my friend. I was there for him when he was having girl problems. I listened when he was having emotional issues. I'd bounce things off of him because I trusted him. He was my friend.
We had a David and Johnathan friendship. We had it until we didn't.
My birthday was coming up and I had finally gotten him on the phone after a few weeks of him being too busy to text. I mentioned getting people together for my birthday because my life was feeling pretty destroyed My heath wasn't great, my job was gone, my best friend was too busy/apathetic, the couch I was living on was too small, my church imploded and I was feeling a lot like Job. I needed to be around some people who had some love. Like Job's friends, what I got wasn't love or anything near compassion. I was told that I was selfish for wanting to have people around for my birthday. They said I was wrong and that "parties" were something only for little kids. Here's the thing about that. The way I grew up, I never had that. I had tried. I had invited my entire class over for birthday parties when I was a kid. I gave them all cupcakes and everything and no one ever came. The heart of where I was coming from was that I wanted some token that I mattered as much to others as they mattered to me. A small kernel of that truth. My then best friend told me that was selfish. The irony of it all now is that that guy currently says that people in the church don't love enough or sacrifice enough.
When everything that was my life at that time was burning down around me, I was hurt and angry and probably a little lost. What came out of me wasn't wholesome and uplifting...
It was a lot of F words.. I was feeling pretty broken by life, betrayed by my friend, judged severely by some of my family and I was at a crux where I needed to decide if I wanted to keep going with God or curse him and give up on life. It was that kind of severe. Out of my mouth was a vocal pain... and I'm not saying that it was righteous because it wasn't... but it was honest.
What I got from a small handful of "church" people were cringe worthy responses from having said the F word. Never mind the state of my heart, or the agony that I was struggling with. never mind the battle that was raging in my mind and heart for my soul itself.
I said a bad word and I was deplorable. I physically nor spiritually could not stand and I was getting a lecture about my choice in diction from people that I barely knew, who didn't bother to know me.
I have said everything else in this post to lead up to this point. This is one of the things that I believe separates "church" people from "Christ" people. Christ people hear hurts and they do what they can WITH that person. If you look at Job's friends, all of them were jerks with awful advice up until you get to Elijah. A lot of ministry is looking past the pain to the person. This is one reason that I don't cringe when I'm talking to people about God and there is language that is not ideal. I still struggle with my own language some times. I know that I'm not alone in that company. Peter walked with Christ and loved Him. He spent years with him and being there. Then come the night of the Crucifixion, Peter's whole world gets flipped turned upside down. Peter starts swearing at people in his denial. Peter in his pain and hurt and awkwardness wasn't right, neither was I. I wrestled with God. I eventually came back to the conclusion that I wasn't mad at God for anything that had happened because it wasn't His fault. I told Him outright that those two commands " love God, love your neighbor" I could only do the first half because I was in a bad place. God brought a friend around, my friend Zachariah Lojano. A Christ person that knows hearts. He grieved with me when I was grieving. He sat with me when I needed to just be sat with. He listened. This is ministry. There was Christ in his actions. Because of the Christ in his actions, I was able to be around a small group bible study. From there I was able to love my neighbors again. From that God brought me to another church and helped heal me up from my life being torn apart.
I had an old pastor that used to say that if there isn't at least one cigarette butt in the parking lot then the "church" probably isn't doing it's job. That is a notion something terrifying to "church" people because often its about perception. It's about dressing a certain way to have the look of superiority.
I can't live that lie very well. I'd like to believe I'm too honest for that.
When you meet a broken person, try not to look at they ways that they're broken. Look at the ways that you can help put them back together. I'm still working on that.