Living Rescued Together {Let’s Stop “Prayerfully” Talking About Others}

Eleven pounds.  Six ounces.

That’s how much I weighed at birth.  I appear to be about five months old in my newborn pictures.

And, yes, my momma had me naturally. WHEW!

From the moment I entered the world in 1975, loving people surrounded me. I have no childhood stories to share that would cause you to gasp.  We lived in a 70 X 14 trailer in Bishop’s Trailer Park in a little unincorporated area called Rock Branch.  Our socioeconomic status wasn’t the predictor of success or failure that I learned in college it should have been.

Or, perhaps we were an exception.

Our parents loved us.  My sister and I had a good relationship with both our parents including our dad.  My parents didn’t divorce.  We weren’t abused or neglected.

We simply never fit any of the statistics – thank you, Lord.

Of course, we weren’t and aren’t perfect.  But those 18 years before I moved to college were as wonderful as any child could ever desire – especially now that I know the pain and suffering of so many kiddos.

When I went to college at 18, a new group of people joined my world.  My mom, dad, and sister were still present, but not nearly as much.  I lived in another place with other people.

My new college friends and I would describe our growing up and high school years to one another…everything from bulimia to affairs causing divorce to racial slurs.  I grew up in a small town; some of my friends came from big cities. We were a diverse group with equally diverse stories.  I loved learning about each of them and how different our upbringings had been.

And, while I can share story after story with you about these precious friends, I can’t tell you what it’s like to grow up in an inner city or as the only African-American in an all-white high school.  I can’t tell you what it’s like when your dad leaves your mom for his secretary or when you struggle with an eating disorder or have been molested.

I know the stories.  I listened and loved as best I could.

But, I can’t truly know how any of that felt.

After college, I married and had two children.  I’ve lived in five different communities over the past 15 years.  Friends have come and gone.  My dad’s gone, and my extended family still lives far away.

I know story after story…I have walked through mess after mess and joy after joy with friends and family  – some joy and mess mine – some joy and mess theirs.

women holding hands

Still…I cannot truly understand living in Honduras for seven years with need in my face daily.  I can’t relate to a husband with a gambling or drinking problem. Infertility is real and hard, but I don’t know how that feels either.  I’ve never had to file bankruptcy or bury a child.

I walk alongside and love, but I can’t ever fully “get it.”

And, I don’t think I have to.  Or want to.  Or should.

Because no one really “gets” my story.  I’ve shared it generally with many, but the specifics are only known to a few. And the few who have known and dove into the mess with me? They never “got it” because my experience was not theirs.  And even if we share similar suffering, no suffering is one size fits all.

No answers are one size fits all either.

Recently, God has made my heart super sensitive to how I “size up” others.  Perhaps I am sitting in the mall and see someone I know.  My head begins down this road:  she’s the one who left her husband for no apparent reason and remarried quickly. I never speak these words aloud, but if that person’s story has been public or shared with me, I identify them with it. Always.  And sadly, I filter what I think about them through what I know about them, which I fear begins to affect my attitude toward them. And I have no idea what precipitated that divorce or how she’s hurt.

It seems no one gets a clean slate.

I think we are all guilty of “sizing up” others or speaking about another  even though we have no idea what it’s like to live in her home, parent her children, or survive her trauma. We even try to “hurry” her healing.

It’s so easy for me to say…they need to get those kids under control.  Or, she needs to spend more time being a better wife. Or, that woman needs to slow down; she’s always in a tizzy.  Or, if she were closer to Jesus, perhaps she could see the error of her ways or make wiser decisions.

We sometimes think we know what’s best for another, but even those walking with me now – walking with you now – do not and cannot know the full scope of our lives.  My parents and sister knew me best from 0-18; my college friends from 18-22; my small group and co-workers from 22-24; and a variety of friends from 24 to now.

No one except Jesus fully understands how I am wired and what’s made me that way. He’s the only one who has been there for all 37 of my years.

And no one except you and Jesus fully understand how you are wired and what experiences – good and bad – have molded and made you into the person you are, standing in the season you’re in for the purpose HE has.

So, let’s trust others in the hands of the ONE we follow.  Trust Him to be the healer, redeemer, and heart changer He promises to be.

Let’s love one another and extend grace. More and more and more.

We can find hope and life in loving one another, but we only find destruction when we sit and discuss another’s life as if we understand or know- especially if we’ve never talked to that person about what we’re seeing or feeling.  (And, heavens, I have been guilty of THIS!)

Follow Jesus’ example and walk with the hurting instead of discussing them. Trust me, they’re already hurting enough.  Whispers and sideways glances only deepen their wounds.

It’s so easy to look at others and think we know what’s better or best.  But, we can’t possibly know what it’s like to walk a mile in her shoes, and even after walking alongside her for years and loving her well, we will never fully understand what it’s like to be her.

Indeed, as I ponder “living rescued” – living as a child of the one true King – I realize God’s commanded me to encourage others to live rescued too.

He desires for us to live rescued together.

Answering every heartfelt question with often quoted Bible passages, probably won’t help others live rescued as much as doing life with them – noting when Jesus shows up in the ordinary – seeing His hand everywhere – THAT grows faith, trust, and hope. THAT moves me and those I love closer to Him as we talk about Him and look to Him through the ups and downs of life.

That is LIVING rescued together, not showing up randomly to preach rescued, but LIVING it. It’s walking alongside another in good and bad. It’s seeing others as image-bearers of Christ.  It’s realizing that in Christ we are all loved and forgiven equally.  It’s seeing yourself and others in light of the cross.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15: 12-13

I pray today that you’ll choose to live rescued…together.

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