I remember bringing a meal and spending time visiting a friend of mine who was having another bout with cancer a few years ago. In a strange turn of events, months later it was that same friend who brought dinner to me as I recovered from a hospitalization. Just two years ago, I stood at her bedside as she unconsciously labored barely clinging to life. I held her hand and spoke with her son. Other visitors came and I knew it was time for me to go. Leaning close to her ear the words I really wanted to say were nowhere to be found. What came out was simply, “hang in there.”
I cried all the way home at the sheer stupidity of what I had said to my dying friend. How completely devoid of inspiration and hope. Normally, I have lots of words in my little arsenal and rarely am at a loss for what to say. This was one of those moments, and it breaks my heart. ‘Who says that to a dying person?
There will be times in our life when we are confronted by situations that hit us like a brick wall and we are confused about what to say. Sometimes there is no need to say anything. Our presence and attentive listening are enough. We may not know what to say, or how to say something, so in the awkward silence we say something stupid instead. I wonder, if up in heaven there is a bulletin board labeled, “Stupid Things Said to the Dying.” I know my comment is there.
Other annoying statements like, “You be you” or, “this is just who I am,” are both selfish driven copouts which infer doing whatever one wants with no concern for anyone else or the consequences.
I remember when our youngest daughter who was a senior in high school said to me one fine day, “how about I do me, and you do you.” She was not happy when me doing me, left her unable to “do” what she wanted to do. It is like wanting autonomy but being completely dependent. Later that year, she wanted to have us pay for an apartment for her and a friend. She was laboring under our restrictions put in place for her well-being. Silly little thing, how cute and naïve. So, I did what any parent should do and enlightened her on the reality of life and the real costs, outside the shelter of our loving home. She was unaware apparently and must have assumed everything was free from the tooth fairy?
I have come to see that we can sometimes be those ungrateful children to our heavenly Father as well. We want it all: autonomy and protection, God’s ear when we are in trouble, but not bothered with maintaining a relationship. We want to go to heaven…someday, but not live as if our lives depended on it.
Many of the readings and Gospels leading up to Advent have reminded us to watch and be alert. Today’s Gospel finds Jesus saying to his disciples and us, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” (Lk 21:34)
Are we listening?
I think it is enlightening to see that Jesus places “anxieties of life” in the same sentence as drunkenness and carousing. All these things let us be taken away from the present reality.
“That is the point Barb.”
Perhaps. God is in the present, in the messiness and reality of day to day life. When we medicate or overly distract ourselves to escape those realities in an unhealthy way, we distance ourselves from God’s saving grace available in the present moment. I suggest that when we want to run and hide from reality, the place that we go to instead is to God, praying for His strength and grace.
There are still ten days left in our 30-day Journey Toward Holiness campaign. No need to hesitate any longer, it’s free. “Get holy, or die trying” is our motto, and now is as good of time as any to begin before Advent.
Then join us for the Advent Mission featuring Mark Hart on Monday and Tuesday nights, 6:30pm, December 7th and 8th. You won’t want to miss it. Seriously…Mark is hilarious, knowledgeable, engaging and real! He is the Bible Geek after all.
Time is precious, life is short, and God is not going to be super open to, “Gosh, I was really busy Lord…”
Jesus reminds us in Scripture, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” (Matt 25:13)