Lately, I've been praying about being able to recognize other people's issues pretty clearly but when I look at my problems or things happening in the lives of my closest family, my vision tends to get a little blurry. The message my heart received in answer was better than 20/20 vision.
People make mistakes. They're hard on themselves. Criticism is commonplace. You don't need to add anything to it. Just remember, sawdust and planks.
Have you ever been to someone's house and you notice their flower beds need to be weeded or maybe their kitchen wallpaper is peeling or their sofa seems a little dated? Most people would never dream of saying anything about these issues because (1) It would be rude to comment on personal taste - maybe they like weeds. (2) They're not *real* issues. (3) They're not your flowers, wallpaper or sofa so mind your own beeswax! Can I get an amen?
When someone's issues become a little more personal, why do we feel at liberty to talk about it? Suddenly, we feel like we're on camera at the Dr. Phil show and your Aunt needs a Texas size intervention. Sometimes we choose to discuss the problem directly to them (which would be better) or chat it up with others (which is not such a great idea.)
Let's say a friend, in your view has a troubled marriage, or a co-worker is in denial about an aging parent who needs additional care. Maybe you disagree with the way a neighbor raises his son without enough discipline. What makes us say OUT LOUD to others or to the person with the issue, our opinions of their life? It seems to me it would be better to mention that they have a leaky faucet than something so intimate as a family dilema with so many layers of obstacles. We are not Judge Judy. We are not guests on Dr. Phil. Everyone is going through something that we know nothing about. Maybe we should wait until we've been *ASKED* before we offer advice or solution to a problem.
Except for the time he joined the Navy before WWII, (much to my Granny's disgruntlement), my grandfather worked in the lumber yard at the sawmill. He witnessed plenty of planks and sawdust. Figuratively and otherwise. His entire life was spent, loving his Lord, loving his family and serving the church. He was kind, a hard worker and never met a stranger. Everyone loved him because he respected people - no matter their title. More than just respect, he upheld the invisible boundaries others set for themselves. If you asked my Grand-Dad for help - you'd get it. But what you didn't get is judgment on how you got into the predicament which required his assistance. He came from a poor Western North Carolina background but to watch his blue eyes squint in the sun as he rode his tractor across the farm, you'd think he was the richest man alive because he was content with what God gave him. His modest means didn't change his humble yet reliable tithing. His dusty house didn't deter him from inviting you over for a meal. His lack of education didn't change the way he shook your hand. From a child's viewpoint, I remember seeing his milky upper arm come from behind his blue workshirt like a moon from behind a cloud. His overalls were his trademark, snuff was in his pocket and you could find him any Sunday afternoon sitting on the bench underneath the pecan tree closest to the road. I loved how peaceful he was. Especially on Sunday afternoons when he'd say, "Li'l sister let's go for ice-cream." I'd step real high on those muddy running boards of his blue rusty truck and go for a ride to the gas station. The thing I remember the most is that he treated everyone with the same kindness and respect, any color of their skin, any size of their bank account. He never eyed other people's problems and he definitely didn't dwell on his own.
We are not the authority to pick apart other people's problems. We might not have weeds in our flower beds, but I bet we have rotting wood on our windows.
Maybe it's time to take a trip to the lumber yard.
Seeds to Share:
Matthew 7:3 - Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Ephesians 4:29 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for buiding others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.