Daily Devotions

Making Connections

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Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. (Genesis 2:18a)

In a previous church, I visited with a distinguished man who came to our worship services over a period of time. I called on him and he let me visit him in his home. This person, who was approximately 75 years old, lived in a tiny, one-room studio apartment. We had a nice visit, but just before I was getting ready to pray and leave, the conversation turned strange. First, he started talking about this being the only place where he was sure we were not being bugged by the Democratic Party. He knew they were after him. Then, as I was walking out the door, he said, “Please tell me if I ever smell bad. I heard a woman, about 10 years ago, say I smelled bad.” This was a man who was meticulous in every way.

Over time, a number of us came to understand that this poor man had spent the vast majority of his life alone. He never married. He was an only child, who was totally alone when his elderly mother died. He worked in the back room of a small business, doing the books for thirty-nine years. We realized it took him great courage to attempt a church life. Sadly, he pushed the church away, as his paranoia that the Democratic Party had spies in the church, kept him from connecting with our church. A number of people tried to include him, but his issues were just too serious and, without familial advocates, we had to give up. To this day, I fret about how he spent the rest of his days.

Connections with other human beings are vitally important to a meaningful life. People who are without others have higher levels of dementia, suicide, and many other health issues, both physical and emotional. Briana Wiest, in her article, “Connection Is a Core Human Need, But We are Terrible at It,” states, “Connection is the experience of oneness. It’s having shared experiences, relatable feelings, or similar ideas.” Wiest continues, “The biggest problem in most people’s lives in trauma, and trauma is what creates a damaged ability to connect with others.” I do not know the trauma my older friend experienced, but he did come across as a traumatized human being.

Today, think about and pray for ways you and your church can make connections with those who are utterly alone. It isn’t an easy process because those people are often the hardest to find. Plus, they will often not be particularly interested in connecting, but need to all the same. Doing so will take compassion, patience, and emotional creativity to draw them out. Without us, who will? I love Wiest’s next statement: “Most people believe a connection is something they earn by being ‘good enough’ when it is really something they develop by being willing enough.” Our task is to provide a situation where they will be willing enough. Be willing to open your heart to someone who has lost connections with this world.

 

Don’t Get Scorched  

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Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

 

I’ve been reading an article earlier this week that caught my eye. “Why ‘Rage’ is the Word of the Year.” Morgan Jerkins gives any number of reasons, nationally, why “rage” was so prominent in 2018. I do not need to give you a bunch of examples, I am sure you can come up with enough of your own.

 

Just the week before, I was listening to a group of church members who had gathered after a meeting. They were talking about how disturbing the past year has been, with all the anger expressed in our politics, our social situations, and between people. Rage used to be unusual, but what happens when rage becomes normal? What do we humans have to do, in a rage culture, to express even more exasperation?

 

What I appreciated about Jerkins’ article is her concern for what this rage does to the victim. She used the examples such as the way Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was treated, to the lack of response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. She continues with tear-gassed humans at the U.S.-Mexican border, to voter suppression in Georgia. I will stop, because I already said I wouldn’t give examples. I share these because rage can be an appropriate response. The problem comes when rage becomes a constant.

 

Jerkins said there are many books that affirm women’s rage, for example, she said they often proclaim, “Rage is good. Rage is the impetus for movements. Movements transform the world.” But she continues, “But I often wonder, what happens when the flame does not stop flickering? What happens when it burns and burns until whatever remains is scorched?” What happens is we loose our empathy, and even our joy for living. Rage cannot be the go-to response, or it destroy us.

 

Today, turn down the rage. When rage is an acceptable response, reframe it as righteous indignation. Righteous indignation requires us to continue to care for the one(s) that cause us such distress. Rage implies we are out of control, while righteous indignation means having meditated on the situation from a faith prospective, and with a faith response. Pray that you and those in power can move from rage to righteous indignation. Pray that everyone can begin to think through their strong emotions and find a productive and healthy way of finding reconciliation with accountability. Accountability is the way to reconciliation. But first reconcile your rage, so you are not scorched!

 

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