An early Fall morning, a gentle breeze, and a hot cup of coffee: thank you, Lord, for another day. I sit here on my couch, my feet comfortably resting on a square shaped Ottoman, and I stare, for a minute, into the darkness that lingers outside my front door. The darkness seems all encompassing. And then, out darts a white cat; a glimmer of hope. There is such a thing as “surviving the darkness”. A long, fulfilling sip of coffee later, and I find myself lost in a thought: What all did that cat have to go through in order to survive the night?
I admit it, it’s not something I think about everyday, whether, or not, a cat had to fight his way through the darkness. But this morning, I think about that cat. Thinking about the cat though, leads me to thinking about people. And I realize, just like I can’t even begin to imagine what the alley cat must’ve gone through in order to survive, people are no different.
I take a moment, my knees, and back crackling with age, and I get up to freshen my cup. As I pour, I can’t help but think out loud.
“What if I did know what others had survived? How would that change my dialogue with my fellow man, or woman?”
I may never know the story of another, but I do have an imagination. What if people came with big ole neon signs around their necks that gave watching, wondering eyes a clue about what they are currently going through, or have been through in the past? What if, in that moment when you start complaining about one minor offense, or another, a sign lights up around the neck of the person you are complaining to that reads “I’ve Been Given A Terminal Diagnosis, And I Haven’t Told A Soul. I Don’t Want To Worry Anyone Else”. What if the next time you call yourself telling somebody off because they have bruised your ego in some way, a big, green sign starts to flash on them that lets you know that they are “So Broken That The Next Little Thing May Cause A Suicide”. What would you do then? Would we, human beings, be so reckless in our treatment of others if we really knew the everything of who they are? That is a huge what if. And, as a Christian woman, it is a “what if” that really troubles my spirit.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”
Ephesians 4:29 KJV
What kind of seeds are we sowing this morning? We get so caught up in our own mess. With all the financial difficulties, and family disputes, and arguments on the job, and church begrudging’s, it can be hard to remember, when our flesh gets riled up, that we are not on this earth alone. We, human beings, are so self-centered sometimes, that we mistakenly begin to believe that what we are going through is somehow unique; we claim the monopoly on ‘problems’, and ‘issues because “How dare he/she try and play me that way?” We egotistically, and perhaps, unknowingly, convince ourselves that no one else has gone through, or could possibly make it through, that thing that vexes our spirit so badly, all the while forgetting that a whole lot of people have survived much worse.
And then, the unfortunate happens: we start running off at the mouth; ranting, and raving about something we haven’t even prayed on. And before you know it, something we’ve said has planted a seed in, or caused further damage to, a fellow human being. It is at this point, I believe, we have put ourselves into a position where we have to answer to God. And, that’s a scary thought. I take a deep breath, another sip, and I sit back, and think some more. Everything matters. What kind of seeds are we sowing?
Everything we do, and say, matters. How we react to tests, and trials…matters. Others are watching. Other survivors are watching. And, whether they are watching to see how you’re going to come out on the other side, or waiting to see you fall, as a Christian, you have an obligation to strengthen the body of Christ. When we allow our flesh to control a situation, and we begin to rant in anger, or complain to a friend, we are in no position to build up, or edify. We are in destruct mode; taking out everything in our way at that moment. And, if part of our job as a Christian is to uplift, and make better, then we need to understand that we’re doing something very wrong when we let our feelings, and emotions outshine the spirit of God that’s supposed to be dwelling within. That’s why God sent His Word in the first place. He sent His Word to educate; a full course on “How to Survive Daily”. Christ should be our template, the example we look to in every situation.
He didn’t just send Christ to save the souls of those who would otherwise be lost. God took His Word, wrapped it in the flesh(John 1:1, John 1:14), and allowed it, allowed Him, to experience life the same way we do now. God sent part of Himself, that He may feel, and understand, every single hurt, or annoyance, or pain, known to man. And, if we follow that logic, and just try to imitate the life that Christ led when He walked the earth, there should be something that keeps us from jumping in the river “Negative”, and swimming off at the speed of light. There should be something that keeps us from pushing down on the head of the person that we’ve dragged into the water with us; keep us from threatening to drown them with everything that is going on with us. If Christ truly dwells within, shouldn’t flippin’ off at the gums take second place to prayer?
We, Christians, humans, need to be more conscious of what we’re doing, and how we are doing things. As humans, we have the ability to experience emotion, and that’s a beautiful thing…sometimes. Other times, not so much. As Christians, we say we accept Christ as our Lord, and Savior, we say we want to be more like Him, but in a moment of distress, we momentarily forget about everything we’ve read in His Word. Your feelings are valid, I’m not trying to steal that from you. But, a moment of emotion for you, could mean devastation for the person you unload on. So, I’m saying, pray more. I need to pray more, too. Because, when I think about myself saying, or doing, anything around anybody that could be detrimental to them in any way, it just breaks my heart. I want to be more like Christ. I want to build up, not destroy. I want to pray, and not faint. I want to heal, not hurt.
And so, out of the darkness, a glimmer of hope; there is such a thing as “surviving the darkness”. My coffee is cold now, but I’m all warm inside. God, a Fall morning, a gentle breeze, and a cup of brew, lead me to a place of understanding. We survive nothing by ourselves. Prayer is the ultimate key, but there is always someone, somewhere, that understands. No one who has been hurt should want to see anyone else hurt the same way.
And yes, I’ve been wounded. But that doesn’t mean I have to wound anybody. All those people around us have problems, too. Everybody is going through something. Everybody has survived something. But, not everybody has the benefit of knowing Christ. Not everybody knows a Word of prayer. For somebody, we are a last resort, and what we say to them may be the thing that saves their lives. And, that’s a huge responsibility, I know. But again, what if? Besides, what message are you sending to those around you if you claim to find strength in Jesus, but not enough to hold your tongue, or your temper?