Saturday, August 11, 2012

Well, That's Just The Way I Am

When I was growing up my family and I attended a certain church which had a problem: Harriet (not her real name). Harriet had never learned that once you became a Christian you were supposed to act Christ-like. No, there was no kindness in that woman. She seemed to delight in hurting people and often left a wake of damaged people behind her. 

Every Sunday, or so it seemed, she would have a new dress. And although she was always on time for the service, she would purposely wait in the foyer until everyone was seated so she could make her grand entrance, which she did Sunday after Sunday. After my mother gave birth to my baby brother, Harriet paid her a visit. My mother had had a difficult labour and delivery because my brother was ten pounds and 23 inches long. So when Harriet arrived my mother was laying on the living room couch resting. Instead of Harriet offering to make a meal or doing some other household chore to help her fellow sister in Christ, she chose to make it obvious by her facial expressions and loud sighs and eventually her words, that she didn't approve of the state of my mother's house. Instead of help and comfort she brought with her condemnation and hurtful remarks. 

Whenever a new pastor came to the church Harriet would immediately offer to babysit their children although she didn't care for children in the least. She would ingratiate herself to them, worming her way into their family and when she grew tired of the pastor's children she would loudly proclaim to anyone who would listen how put upon she felt and how the pastor and his wife only took advantage of her. She often criticized the pastor or his message or whatever else she could think of. Needless to say, we saw many pastors come and go over the years. 

Every so often someone would call her on her bad behaviour to which she would reply: "well, that's just the way I am, take it or leave it". In other words she wasn't willing to change or repent of her sinful actions. If you are wondering whether or not someone in a church could actually be that wicked, let me tell you this little story as an add on. Eventually Harriet, her husband and her grown family left the church and were gone for awhile. When the pastor of the church down the road heard they were planning to come to his church, he called them and said he would welcome one couple but not all of them in the same church ever! Yes, Harriet was that bad!

Unfortunately, Harriet isn't the only person who has used the excuse 'that's just the way I am'. When we come to Christ we need to strive to be Christ-like. We put off the old man and put on the new. That means that we have to work at it. God doesn't wave a magic wand and make us instantaneously kind and loving. We have to work at it. Its sad to say that there are mean people everywhere, even in the church and they are saying things like Harriet did to excuse their bad behavior. They're counting on God to turn a blind eye to what they are doing and saying. They somehow think that the way they act is the way God made them as if they have no control over their actions or words.

God says in His Word that we are to treat others better than we treat ourselves. We are to be kind and gentle in our speech. We're to go out of our way to help others. We are to live as Christ lived and in so doing draw others to Him by our example. It's not easy to put off our old nature but we are told to do so time and time again in the Scriptures. We know that God sees all and knows all and we know that He looks at the intents of our heart but somewhere between knowing this and actually believing this, we've gone off on our own and acted in any way we want to act. We feel safe that at one time we said the sinners prayer, we attend church and we pay our tithe so our actions and our words shouldn't matter...should they? 

Yes, they do matter. God will judge us in the same manner as we judge others. He will hold us accountable for every cruel word we utter. He will not forgive us if we don't forgive others. Yes, it does matter how you act and what you say. If you're a mean person God will not turn a blind eye to your actions and pat you on the head and say 'oh Harriet, that's okay, I know you couldn't help it that's just the way you are.' No, of course not. God wants a people who will be like Him; who will show the world that He loves them through the way they treat others. 

It saddens me to know that there are 'Harrietts' in the world, but there are and they do harm to the kingdom of God. As a pastor's wife I have seen people leave the church because the local Harriet has hurt them one too many times. I believe God will judge the 'Harriets' of the world for that. Its easy to say that people shouldn't listen to a Harriet or pay attention to her, but that's pretty hard to do when you're Harriet's target. A church is supposed to be a safe place not a place to be hurt. It should be a sanctuary from the cruel world outside its doors. It should be a family atmosphere not a battlefield. 

Yes, there are mean girls in the church, just like Harriet, but God sees their actions and hears their words.  If you are dealing with a Harriet let me encourage you to hang in there. Pray that the Lord would give you strength to deal with her and that He would soften her heart and make her more like Him. The Word tells us to 'pray for those who despitefully use us' and that's what we have to do. They can use the excuse 'that's just the way I am' but God knows the difference and He sees all. He sees you and He loves you with an everlasting love. God bless.

1 comment

  1. Excellent post for both the victims and the actual "Harriets"