Need to care for a cat? I could give some pointers. Give a self-manicure, I can help with that.
When it comes to caring for people, I am currently at a loss. I used to think I cared well. I do think that expressing one’s care for another is better than not doing anything at all. It’s tricky though, right? How to do so without adding to the hurt? Or how to do it in a way that is received as care?
I’ll air out some mistakes that I learned/still need to learn from.
On a ride home, I was sitting in the backseat of a truck with a… young couple on the rocks. I didn’t know that they were on the rocks, so when I noticed… subtle but growingly unsubtle hints of disagreement between them, it was an awkward surprise. It was also awkward because I adore the individuals, as well as that I am bit of a soft-heart for romance opportunities [that of others usually, romance makes rare appearances in my own life, or if I would recognize it while it was right next to me]. Shorthand: I was hurting for them.
It was the first time I saw these people obviously in pain. I didn’t know what I ought to do. I wanted to ask someone closer to the young man if he would comfort our friend in whatever way he knew to be best, because I couldn’t. Do whatever it is guys do. I just wanted someone actively caring for the young man.
What happened next in my story is that One gave a short update to Two about Three, the young man. I started to tell Two, the closer friend I wanted to ask to care for Three, I’d never seen Three like that before. The message was interrupted. One and Two probably thought I just meant to gossip, but that wasn’t my intent. In anyway, I’m sure my care for Three didn’t come across at all.
It was meant to be in the similar vein of when Two had asked me to care for Four, a female friend I was closer to. Two alerted me to an incident that he noticed and stirred concern in him. I failed in my concern for Three. However, for Four, I have an inkling that I helped in some way, but I have no idea how! I didn’t mention Two’s notice, being sensitive that she might not want to talk about it or might mention it if she did. We just hung out and talked about whatever. Well, soon after, I helped her find a mentor because it was required for a trip she was about to take. Mentor said that people usually come to her about relationship stuff. Four told Mentor she didn’t need that kind of advice. Four came back to me and relayed how her conversation went with Mentor, saying something to the effect of, for the first time, she didn’t feel the need to talk about a certain situation and felt better, so didn’t need to tell Mentor about it. Thing is, I’m not completely sure that I helped [she said I had] or how, but it started with Two telling me something was up, so it was his effort that succeeded. Hmm, I wonder if I ever let him know that?
There was a period of time when Hatchet somewhat depended on me. She was always in relationships, long term ones, but always out of one and right into another. This had constantly caused me concern for her because she didn’t seem healthy about it, but I generally stayed out of it.
Hatchet started a new relationship with an old high school classmate. Classmate had a bad reputation in high school: drugs, physical abuse, emotional abuse, etc. High school was a mere 4 years in the past at that time. I was open to the idea that Classmate had changed his bad ways. I was asked and so I advised that she be simply friends with him first, for a time. That lasted about a day.
Then Classmate started to exhibit unhealthy signs of the old habits. I didn’t say anything because I had no solid evidence. I took Hatchet out to dinner for her birthday and Classmate… did not react well. This was the first time I had Hatchet alone since they started dating. Classmate was all she talked about. Then she asked for more advice about their relationship. I gave it, still saying that I would support whatever decisions she made.
About a week later, not hearing from her since dinner, she missed my birthday dinner. So I called with no answer. I wrote. She wrote back. Classmate accused me of giving stink eye and disapproving of him because he wasn’t a Christian and how Christians have always been mean to him, etc. So she took his side and cut ties with me.
Hatchet and I are ex-friends to this day. I’ve even apologized [still believing I acted rightly though I didn’t say this], acknowledging that she had been hurt anyhow, and tried several times to reconcile. No success, very little answer.
Fact: I didn’t mention religion at all when I talked with Hatchet. Fact: I did not purposely give Classmate stink eye, so that was only his perception. Fact: I am sorry that people have been hurt by Christians, knowingly and unknowingly.
However: I recognize that in high school, my reputation was “The Christian” or “The Pure One,” not that I ever “lorded” my religion over anyone. I mean, there was the other camp that thought there was no chance that I was “pure,” so go figure. Or how about how I had friends of all sorts? Or that my reputation wasn't as a controversial person? I dunno.
Later on, I hung out with some mutual friends. Muscles asked if I’d seen Hatchet recently. I said no. He went on to say how can Hatchet be with Classmate? Did she think his [bad] reputation in high school was a joke? He went out with our friend and abused her! Everyone knew about it! Classmate was his boy, but Classmate had not changed his ways.
There’s still a piece of me that would welcome reconciliation with Hatchet. She used me horribly, but I still care about her no matter how I failed in doing so.
So, in my walk, I am seeing more clearly that God works a lot of time through people. God is in relationships, just as he is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in constant relationship, an eternal community.
However, when God’s called us to care for someone else, it isn’t always carried out well, is it? This puzzles me. Is it supposed to carry out well, as in guaranteed success? No mistakes? No bumps in the process? God gives commands, but not often instructions, or does he?
When I started writing this, I had no idea where it would go. I had no intention of bringing God into this entry. I suppose I should have suspected it would happen, as it relates to something I’m going through currently.
I suppose, in respect to caring for a friend, I would rather err greatly in caring, while believing still more greatly, to borrow sentiment from Luther. I might not have the sentiment perfectly, though it is how I understand his words [and not a probably worldly preferred interpretation of “sin as much as one wants because it doesn’t matter”]. Plainly, I would rather make a mistake in caring for someone than to have them not know that I ever cared, while first doing my best to care well.
Errrrr… the end.