Saturday, September 26, 2009

Speaking of my blind spots ...

I really have even less excuse than other people. I have sat in a church pew alone on a holiday and watched people file by at the end of a service, heading to full homes and cheerful holiday dinners, while nobody so much as said "Hi" in my direction to the single mom whose kids were away. I would roll my eyes at myself and my seeming semi-pariah status in church. I know what that's like. I wondered (a little self-righteously, no doubt) if they were blind.

I remember when another church member had her husband go overseas on business for a year, and how the church rallied behind her as she tried to raise her children alone for a year. There were sign-up lists for helping her with home repairs and yardwork, sign-up lists for sending supporting emails and phone calls. I thought it was something of a slap in the face to those of us who are alone 24/7/365 but there isn't a similar effort. I vented to on-line friends of the situation -- and was that ever an eye-opener. One person who has never met me told me, very confidently, that the reason nobody was interested in helping me was that I must be the kind of person who never helped others when they were in need. I disagreed, but didn't want to blow my own horn so offered no details. As she continued to insist that I must be a very unhelpful person to draw such cold responses from people, I finally (and against my better judgment) listed various ways in which I helped people in my family, neighborhood, church, and wider community. She did instantly change her approach; she told me that the reason nobody was interested in helping me was that I must be the kind of person who seemed like I never needed help. The one thing I learned from that experience was: if someone doesn't want to help, not only will they not help, but they will also manage to blame the person they're not helping for that decision. Again I wondered (a little self-righteously, no doubt) if they were blind.

So I really do have less excuse than other people. I realized the other day that my old neighbor across the street hardly comes out anymore, and the semi-shut-in next door likewise. And I even found myself powering up the excuse-generator in my mind. The woman next door is far from pleasant; her husband the semi-shut-in is, from medication, partially insane. The old neighbor across the street has never been known to have a conversation without criticizing me and my children and my child rearing skills. And I have to face it: I've been wilfully blind. Am I so lame that I can't walk next door? My neighbor next door is.

Praying to shut down the excuse factory, and stop being blind and lame.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

You are right on, and I'm in the same boat that you are in. I know better, too. I'm not at all good about thinking about who, when, what to step out and actually do something. I do stuff at the church, often, but what you are talking about is more informal, but perhaps, more important. I have all sorts of excuses that would hold water like a colander.

One time, a Bible study participant missed one meeting. I didn't know her too well, but I got this voice in my head to buy groceries and take them to her. I knew that God was telling me that because it was so out of character, and I obeyed, and we struck up a long friendship. Another time, I was "told" to cook for the Wed. night youth group, which hadn't been done before, except if the youth leader did it. Again, out of character for me, but I followed, cooked for the whole school year, and it was a good thing, which continues, now with different volunteers each week.

But I know many other things I could/should/don't have an excuse for not doing. Maybe the "knowing" is also the voice of God, even if it comes to me in another form. Like you post.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

OOps, "your post" not you post.

Martin LaBar said...

God help you, and all of us, or at least most of us.