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.


LoieJ 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.

LoieJ said...

OOps, "your post" not you post.

Martin LaBar said...

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