I did something today that I didn’t really want to do. I was afraid that it would offend some people. I was afraid that I wouldn’t explain myself clearly. I was afraid that it would create a backlash that I wasn’t willing to deal with. I was just plain afraid. I did it anyway.
Christians are called to share their lives with one another; to confess our sins to and pray for each other – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” -James 5:16 NASB.; to share life’s ups and downs – “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” -Romans 12:15 NASB; and to help each other in times of trouble – “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2 NASB. We call it fellowship. I consider myself a Christian yet I have failed at fellowship more times than I can count.
This past year and a half has been a tough one since my diagnosis, and I have gone from not too bad to worse, symptom-wise. I have stopped a lot of doing and going. I don’t go grocery shopping alone anymore, I don’t go anywhere where there’s not a table to lean on or a particular type of chair to sit in. I haven’t been to church in months, and in that absence I have had one person keep in touch with me on a regular basis. Not what I expected from the church.
On the flip-side, I have not reached out either. Maybe a stray notecard here and there, Facebook likes or comments on a post now and then, but no real connection. It’s been easy to get wrapped up in my own life and adjusting to my “new normal”. It’s easy to sit here and take on a victim role. That’s not healthy and thats not how I want my life to go. Playing the bitter victim just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and I don’t like it. So, I did what I did today.
A couple of days ago I joined a group of women from my church doing a YouVersion devotional together. Today, Day 2, some of the women shared how much they appreciated the women at our church, how they were always there for them and it meant so much. I commented on how my experience had been the opposite. I shared, basically, that I wanted to change the lack of fellowship I felt within the church we’d been attending for about 8 years.
I wasn’t bitter or angry, I just wanted to be honest. I own my part in the situation, and I guess if I were to be really honest I wanted them to own theirs. I wanted to know that my absence didn’t go unnoticed. Fellowship is a two-way street and sometimes some of us are more needy than others. I’ve said this before and I need to remember it as much as the next person. We can’t share life’s ups and downs, and bear one another’s burdens, if we don’t share! I assumed more people knew my situation than maybe actually did. I should have expressed myself sooner.
None of us are perfect. We ALL get wrapped up in our own families and day-to-day lives, and next thing we know it’s next month – or even next year! This has to change! Especially within the church! We need to get back to making time for other people. When I was a kid and someone invited our family for dinner, it was common practice to return the favor. Nowadays it seems like hospitality is almost a lost art. I can’t remember the last time anyone invited us to dinner and vice versa. Well, actually, I can remember the last time we had company for dinner, but it was Thanksgiving. I don’t think that counts.
It’s never easy to express disappointment or say something that might rock the boat. Although when I was younger it was a different story. My mother used to tell me I was tactless. I just thought of it as being honest. Sometimes I think I need to be that young girl again, not afraid to tell it like I see it. I think we should all be as honest, sprinkled with some love and grace. We in the church especially. Jesus was honest. He told it like He saw it with no apology. I want to be like Him. Speaking the truth in love, His kind of love – honest and fearless. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear . . . 1 John 4:18a NASB. I want to be better at fellowship and not afraid to be vulnerable with those considered my sisters-in-Christ. I pray that for all of us and that today was a start.