Hello, it has been a long while since I have posted. It seems appropriate to give some sort of greetings to whomever read or follows my writing for whatever reason. The reason for my absence is because I noticed an influx of “college-age-Christian-bloggers-who-have-ideas-that-change-the-world,” and I did not desire to be a part of a trend or movement. I decided that I would rather take my ideas and what I’ve learn to the real world with real people. Albeit, there have been times where I’ve commented on something on Facebook because I think, perhaps, my input could be helpful. Now that I’ve explained my leave of absence, I digress.
This post comes from a rumbling of raw thought that has been trying to find a more precise and refined verbiage that appropriately expresses the thought. The idea in mind and of the current topic is sensitivity.
Growing up, I was always very sensitive to what others said about me, God, my friends, or really anything dear to me. It was not uncommon that I would find myself crying and being hurt at what a person might say. I always thought this was a good thing because it showed that my heart had not grown hard in a sinful and broken world.
As I got older, though, I noticed that there were things that I didn’t feel like I should be hurt or offended by, but I just was. I shrugged off the feeling under the thought and assumption that being sensitive is a good thing and I shouldn’t worry if I’m too easily hurt or offended. In fact, being sensitive is an incredibly good thing and something desperately needed in a cold world in which it is easy to grow apathetic and indifferent. However, I’ve realized that my “sensitivity” was really just a way to guard myself from growing and becoming a different, more mature person.
I recently, very recently in fact, just experienced this in a conversation I had with my wife. I made a comment that hurt her and made her feel as if I was attacking her. Granted, I’ve given her reason before to think this way unfortunately (something that God is currently working in me). This time, however, I simply made a comment to help her see something perhaps she couldn’t see and to help her grow.
If you’re reading this and you’re completely lost, perhaps an example will help. Maybe you have or heard of a friend who is in a relationship with a guy who just isn’t good for her, but she is happy and likes him a lot. If you were to confront this girl and say, “Hey, I think this guy is not who you think he is and he does not have sincere intentions in dating you,” often times that girl will react by explaining his behavior, or flat out rejecting what you said. Perhaps we’ve had similar moments happen to us. A friend confronts us with something that isn’t particularly pleasant and we either defend ourselves with explanations, or we simply can’t see or understand what they are saying.
When we hear things that are hurtful to us, we should ask ourselves two questions: (1) what is the source of this hurtful thing (i.e., does it come from someone I trust or someone who desires to hurt me/be malicious)? (2) Why would this person say this to me (i.e., do they want to hurt me, or do they want to help me)?
It might help to take these questions to the scenario stated above. If the girl dating this terrible guy asked herself these two questions she might come to something like this: (1) this person who is telling me this is my friend (2) she is probably saying this to help me. After evaluating the hurtful feelings through these questions, the girl can see clearly that her friend has no malicious intent and only desires good for her life.
We often do not ask ourselves these questions when we’re hurt. We immediately feel hurt and assume that it is bad and that this person is trying to hurt us. But we must realize the role that pain has in making us more like Christ. In understanding that this hurt or pain comes from a sinful desire to continue in my sinfulness instead of becoming more like Christ, we will more quickly begin to trust people and grow in wisdom and maturity. We will no longer be like a small boat in storm tossed by every wind of hurtfulness and sunk by every word that passes through our hears.
I am reminded of Paul’s concluding exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 where he simply states:
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.
In the NIV, it says “do not treat prophecies with contempt.” I imagine this was speaking against an attitude that says, “Eh, all prophecies are garbage and I don’t really need to listen to them. I just gotta listen to Paul.” This might not be the context, but I do think, applicationally, it holds us. Essentially, we should mature believers and respected leaders and friends the benefit of the doubt when they speak something that may come as a shock or maybe hurtful to us.
An example that I think of right off the bat that may help wrapping your mind around this abstract idea is this:
There was on Facebook a post that included a picture of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”. Of course, it garnered a lot of attention and some people listed their opinions of this book without having read it. Others commented saying that they cannot rightfully have an opinion without first reading the book. Generally, this is a good principle and we should follow it. However, in this case, we have seen many leaders (John Piper for example) condemn this book as heresy. Some may roll their eyes when they read that John Piper condemns this, but I think we need to give him the benefit of a doubt. He is a mature Christian and respected leader who has given no reason to think poorly of his opinion. In fact, we should regard his opinion highly because of who he has made himself to be. This is not to say we should not read this book, but simply that it is not foolish to form an opinion based on mature and respected leaders’ opinions about such a book.
All this to say, there is a level of sensitivity that must exist today to empathize with the hurting, lost, and broken. However, there also needs to be understanding that hurtful words do not necessitate malicious intent. As a family in Christ, we should always give each other the benefit of the doubt that each of us has good intentions for one another and that we are helping one another grow closer to Christ. A difficult task to be sure because of our experience in this world that people are generally self-centered, mean, and unkind. But isn’t this exactly what Christ is seeking to undue in His people, and thus our trust and disposition towards other Christians should be that of love and humility?