Resolutions frighten me quite frankly because I don’t like to lie. I don’t like to lie at all- not to my associates or acquaintances, not to my creditors or co-workers…I decided some time ago that I would not lie to my wife, I would not lie to my family, I would not lie to my church and I would not lie to my friends…in fact I lost a friend in 2013 because he decided to lie to me...but that's another story for another time...
Resolutions frighten me because resolutions are formed within oneself. Resolutions are born in our minds, raised in our hearts and sooner or later, they explode out of our mouths and before we can catch them, they live on forever as our tweets and status updates. Resolutions frighten me because as much as I despise liars and the lying lies that they tell- as much as it bothers me to lie to others, it particularly pains and troubles me to know that when I break a New Year’s resolution, not only have I told a lie that could have been avoided but I have commited the cardinal sin of lying to myself.
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
You and I have faced tragedy and crisis in the past and we are most assured to face conflict and dilemma on tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow. I have increasingly grown to view that above phrase as a copout…I see you crying, I see you struggling, I see you in pain and now when you’re at your weakest, most vulnerable state, I’m going to make you beg me for what you and I both know that you need…
That statement gives us plausible deniability. It allows us to say with a straight face that we asked them if we could do anything to help them and they didn’t respond. That statement keeps our money in our pocket, that statement keeps our prayers in our spirits, that statement keeps our flour, butter and sugar from being combined into comfort pound cake. It keeps gasoline in our vehicles and energy in our bodies and meat in our freezers.
Truth be told, I have never received a real answer to that statement when I asked it- folks always said- “We’re good for now” “We’ll let you know” or most often…”Just pray” and I always walked away feeling like I’ve failed those individuals and families to one degree or another so starting now, I will take their well-stated advice and I will pray. I will pray with faith. I will pray in faith. I will pray when I hear about the calamity, I will pray when I read about it in the paper, I will pray before I call or text or message them and when I see them, I will ask that same phrase but to a different person- I will ask the question to the God who already knows the answer- and whatever it is, I won’t ask them about it, I won’t lower their dignity by giving them another jab on their psyche, I will leave their pride in tact and I will just do it- sometimes it will mean that I will have to come out of pocket- sometimes I will have to light my grill- sometimes I will have to offer a ride- sometimes I will have to wake up out of my precious sleep- sometimes a hug will fix it- or a reassuring word of comfort- it means that I’ll have to go preach, go bury the dead, go join individuals in marriage without the expectation of an envelope- it means changing the world and representing Christ- one gift of love at a time.
I believe that success in this initiative means that I will have to pray even more than I do now. Success means that I will have to be even more sensitive to the needs of others- I’ll have to listen more, observe more, feel more and respond more. If I really want to step my game up and be a better husband, son, sibling and Pastor then I will be diligent to allow nothing between my soul and the savior- I will keep my signal clear if I’m striving for better because if I’m spending too much time in my own mess and I call myself helping out with a $50 bill only to walk into a room full of hungry people, then the immediate need is still present and I have only helped my ego.
I heard the preacher say Saturday afternoon that we can make our mouth say anything that we want to but our actions speak louder than ourwords. Here’s to a renewed spirit to go forth and act out loud.
God’s Best Be With You Always,
Rev. Sterling J. Dowling