Sunday, April 24, 2011

When people are big and God is small #3

The notice reads ‘Staying On Your Feet – A Guide to Preventing Falls’. Below is a clipart image of four people standing with their hands in the air. The pixels are evident where it’s been enlarged. I’m sure it’s been stuck to the board for a long time. Mostly I walk past without noticing.

It’s hard not to notice when someone falls to the ground right in front of you. A gust of wind blew the door shut and it knocked her from the step onto the concrete. She crawled on hands and knees on fragile skin over the rough surface unable to get up. I tried to provide an arm to cling to but I wasn’t stable enough for her to get to her feet. A chair, a door frame and several exhausting attempts later she was on her feet. No wounds but those left on self-dignity.

I don’t normally feel threatened. I don’t usually fear being harmed. I don’t often feel vulnerable. Perhaps it’s the façade of youth and health and wealth that keep me safe. More probably it’s God’s kindness.

Chapter 4 takes a drastic turn from the two before it. It addresses fear of harm. And instead of a wordy notice, it gives the vulnerable a face and a voice. It’s hard to ignore. Welch addresses those who fear being harmed, those who have suffered at the hands of others whether physical, emotional, sexual, family abuse or neglect. He distinguishes between shame that flows from being sinned against and guilt that comes from our own sin. He suggests that these must both be addressed and neither ignored. We are very good at twisting situations and hiding in our selfishness. Welch proposes that the solution is not self-esteem but fear of God. His compassion and kindness, cover and protect and was away guilt and shame. Turning inward is a dead end. Turning to others is in an inescapable labyrinth.

I pray not to find myself amidst the depths of fear of harm and desperate situations. Every day I am vulnerable to risks and dangers that I don’t even acknowledge. I hope that God-confidence more than self-confidence will protect me from fear. I also hope that knowing God and his care for the vulnerable might prompt me to care and compassion in a Christ-centred and truly helpful way.

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