Would that within the church each of us had someone to whom we could go and to whom we could express our doubts, our fears, our questions, our disappointments, our hurts–all of it, a real “gut-spilling”–and be assured that person would not unfairly judge us, nor tattle on us, but also would guide us and instruct us, and if we were wrong, who would tell us so. Surely there are a few such ones, although I suspect there to be a wide and dangerous dearth of such people.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
I know these situations call for extreme carefulness and wisdom of the highest sort, for it must be acknowledged that sometimes when a person approaches another because of trouble in his life, he/she may adamantly reject the advice that is offered, or even take offense at the suggestions. Yet, I believe we must take the risk . . . if we are to fulfill the law of Christ. For we must remember what burdened is, how it looks, how it may act, how ugly it may have become. A truly burdened person may virtually in some ways have lost touch with reality and may be unable to recognize viable solutions. In a funk. Disconnected.
Courage and a mantle of bravery are required of a pastor who sees one under his care who is floundering and who instead of ignoring the situation or of excusing himself by saying I will pray approaches the person and offers help. (Certainly there are times when prayer is the sole answer, and we must have the wisdom to discern the difference.)
Very recently I was approached by a person who pointed out a flaw in me that had hurt that person. I was stunned for I had no idea my actions/words had resulted in that effect, and certainly it was not deliberate. Yet I suffered and felt deep pain. But I respect that person, and I am thankful he/she felt comfortable with telling me of their hurt and that they felt comfortable enough to reveal their questions. I will help them bear their burden (wishing I could do more.) I will be more careful with my own actions and with my own words. Thereby we fulfill the law of Christ.
So what can we do? A couple of things come to mind. One is that I look around at my own life. Is there order? Am I progressing? Am I growing in Christ? Are relationships within my family and within my circle of friends healthy? Do I even have friends? Real ones? If I see a serious deep issue here, may I find someone to whom I can “spill my guts” and from whom I anticipate direction. May I determine to take no offense at what is offered me.
Second is that I look within myself to discern whether another human being who is in pain, who is floundering, can feel comfortable with coming to me for help, for direction, for healing.
The pictures? Taken from a high seat in a double-decker bus last Spring as we toured Rome.