Avoiding the Unfamiliar; Missed Opportunities

Charlotte Ramsey ChaneyRecently at a speaker’s conference, there was a man who had pretty bad cerebral palsy. Everything he did was hard for me to comprehend visually. I felt uncomfortable with the differences, so I avoided him. I was eventually placed in a situation where I had to connect with him; my life was forever changed. He is an incredible man of God and I was literally in tears in his presence. How ashamed I was for my sin of looking at appearances. Soon I was truly thankful God made the connection happen and opened my eyes to see what He sees.
I feel like I am now in that man’s shoes, of sort. I am experiencing a marital separation. After years of trying tirelessly to make it work, relocating has become necessary. While many people are lovingly supportive because judging isn’t their modus operandi or they know me well enough to know I have left no stone unturned and am thoroughly aware of the word of God; there are definitely those who stand at arm’s distance or even avoid me. I realize it is likely, that just as I behaved towards Larry’s physical differences, people probably feel uncomfortable with the mystery of my circumstances.
In any event it’s a good lesson to realize when we are avoiding someone because his or her life challenge makes us uncomfortable, possibly we are judging someone’s pain. Isn’t our goal to love like Christ? Let me be clear, judging other people’s differences is something I know is a horrible habit I am forever working on. I have mistakenly used my salvation and love of Jesus to act in ways that He no doubt loathes. I think of those whom I love who have separated over the years, and how I judged them. Or the times I’ve made God cringe by judging someone’s sexual orientation. What about someone’s illness, physical difference or emotional pain? Are we the body of Christ or are we Pharisees who know what God’s best is but act towards people’s humanity in ways that are far from His heart? His heart that loves us just as we are; through His son.
Check in with God, as I am right now, and see if you need to apologize or ask God to help you see clearly someone else’s situation, so the loving compassion they need is what they get instead of an experience with someone who is so aware of God’s word but they have no idea how to let His spirit love through them.
Thank you for your love and prayers right now for my family.

Comments (6)

I think your article stands as a reminder to us all. How many of us have judged another person on anything? I found myself last week judging two women within a ten minute period at the grocery store checkout line! One for her out-of-control kids and the other for wearing beach attire. I realized what God must see when he reads my thoughts – a heart full of self-righteousness and pride and “I would never’s…” While no one can know why the Lord allows us to walk through valleys in our lives, I am certain that he gets our attention in a number of ways to show us our own hearts. I even heard him whisper to me several months ago “Brenda, do you even want to see your heart right now?” At that moment, I was so caught up in waging war in my head against another person for their sin against me, I had no desire to look at myself. Being re-molded in His image again and again is definitely painful, but so worth it.

I really appreciate your honesty, Brenda. Refinement hurts but I love knowing I’m getting closer to Christ’s likeness and further from my self-righteousness when I go through refinement. I also love the fact that our God offers forgiveness when He reveals those areas we need to grow in. He never points His finger at us and says “Look how wicked you are.” Rather He gently shows us His love and the right way to love while promising He will cover up our past. Not to say we won’t face consequences, but forgiveness and grace abound freeing us up to be more like Him. His provision reigns. How can you not smile knowing that?

I’m not blind to differences, either, Charlotte. I once steered clear of people that had been struck by “lightning” because it reminded me of how vulnerable I was. But, after dealing with issues like deafness and a brain tumor (and its aftermath) with two of my children, and the drowning death of a third, and the divorce of a fourth, I am cautious about making conclusions about cause and effect in other people’s lives. I see things very differently now. And, make no mistake, I see my circumstances and softening heart as the direct result of Father’s plan for me (Romans 8:28). Sorry to hear about your newest trial. All I can do is pray for you, and I just put you on my daily calendar to do so. Press on, Sweet Sister.

I am celebrating your clarity, consciousness, and contrite spirit. We all need to wake up to our own short comings before pointing out someone else’s. I am sending up VIBRANT love for you, your boys, and Tom. May Jesus miraculous love be felt and ever present to you all.

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