Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm So Glad I'm a Part....

In Sunday School the other day, our class was looking at a list of major life happenings and discussing how we would categorize them....world events, family, or personal. The list was extensive, including everything from war to the death of a loved one to financial pressure. There were good things, like an addition to the family or a graduation. And there were many, many stressful things.

Our teacher asked if anyone wanted to share personal experience of anything on the list that had affected them over the last year. It was pretty much crickets at that point. No one really jumping in to say, "Ooooh, me! I've got a major life catastrophe I want to share!"

Let me pause here to say that I do think we have a fairly close-knit Sunday School class. We are friends outside of church, we generally know what is going on in each other's life. We pray for each other. I can definitely vouch that they have shown my family great love through many things over the last few years.

One girl in our class answered (I guess she was the only brave one) and told about her parents going through a divorce and how it is affecting her and all of her siblings. And I admit...I had no idea.

I pointed out another thing on the list to my friend sitting next to me and quietly said, "I dealt with that last year." She touched my arm and with surprise in her voice said, "I didn't know that! I wish you had said something!"

And then it hit me....this is my church family. These are my friends....truly, my dear friends. And the rest of the class, possibly for embarrassment, or guilt, or sadness, or maybe just not wanting to "get into it" for lack of class time, stayed quiet about the list. Yet I know that the list was long, and I know that we all had faced at least one thing on it, if not many more. But how many of us knew? How many had known what our friends, our brothers and sisters, had gone through over the last year? Financial trouble? Job changes? Family members with sickness? Marriage issues? Babies, teenagers, and everything in between?

I realized I did not know what my friend was going through, and I was sorry. I realized I had not shared my struggles last summer as I faced life changes of having a baby and losing Paul's mom. I could not expect my friends to help pray for me and carry my burdens when I had not shared them. I just wondered how many of us are walking this walk relatively alone. Maybe we have shared with a spouse or a parent or one trusted friend. Maybe we don't want to lay all of our struggles out on the line for everyone to know about.

But how would that change us as a church? How could that transform our friendships, even those outside of our church? How much better could it be to link arms with people who love us and face those winds and storms of life together? Or even just to sit down in the dirt with them, to grieve or cry or pray? Or to truly, openly rejoice at life's celebrations?

It just opened my eyes a little bit, knowing that as a pastor's family, we are not void of our own struggles and sadnesses, but how often I hold myself back from sharing them with people who truly care. I really hope that this helped me see how I can trust my church family more, and I hope that they will do the same....because this life is hard, and God never meant for us to face it alone.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.

10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but A)">(A)how can one be warm alone?

12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

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