Why do we remember our wounds more than our encouragements? Maybe, it’s because there are more of them. I don’t know, but I do know they tend to get deeply etched in our souls. Maybe, it is because we walk a delicate balancing act in our psyche between feeling “We can.” and “We can’t.” and it takes just one person agreeing with either inner voice to convince us its true… either way.
I remember the middle-aged church member who said, “Why don’t you go to college so you can amount to something?” It was after the second time I dropped out. I didn’t care for her tone or the implications of what she said. In a rare moment of clarity when my thoughts and words came together, I said, “I probably will return, but I don’t have to go to college to amount to something.”
When I was going to college, I met the pastor of my teenage years who had moved on to become a state denominational official. I was with my current pastor who said to my old pastor, who jokingly asked, “You have a job for this guy down at the state office?” The old pastor replied, “Maybe something in janitorial.” It was a very intentional and hurtful dig because he obviously didn’t like me.
This summer an acquaintance referred to me as a “kept man” because I am currently not employed. She had no idea how and why I left church ministry and what hell that was for me. She had no idea how I have daily looked for a job or a better one for years. She had no idea of all of the jobs I have had, even though they were a terrible match. She had no idea of the investment I made in retraining. She had no idea how I had tried to work myself into a job through connecting with people through volunteer work for years. She had no idea how much time I had put in to develop a home business. She had no idea of what I was currently working on. She had no idea that I stay as busy as people who are gainfully employed. She had no idea that in all of my years leading up to this rough patch I was unemployed for the grand total of one week. She had no idea about how agonizing all this felt.
There are plenty of things that people will do to make you feel like a loser. There were huge segments of the population that were considered losers in Jesus’ day. Prostitutes, lepers, the disabled, people of other ethnic groups were all total outcasts. He was drawn to them; he focused on them.
I can’t think of anybody who had an encounter with Jesus in the gospels who walked away from him and was not encouraged, except for the very powerful, the very wealthy, and those who thought they were extremely righteous.
If Jesus were walking around here today, we could find him by finding the losers, the outcasts, and the marginalized.
I am beginning to see that with Jesus, there are no losers, just those who have trouble fitting in and those who society wants to ignore and they may be the greatest gift of all.
We need to find some “losers” and hang out with them to save our own souls.