Monday, February 1, 2010

Two Sides of The Coin: On The Difficulty of Showing Care

I think one of the scariest things about trying to show care and concern for others is the fear that people will misunderstand your intentions.

Today, I saw a brother who oftens greet people in a very friendly way. I've known him for a long time already. He's a sweet brother. But I can see that others are sometimes a bit apprehensive of him, because of his friendliness.

And I can identify with both sides. The welcomer and the welcomees. I know what it is like to be too friendly, and I know what it feels like to be on the receiving side of being too friendly. I know the pain of rejection from those whom I tried to show care for, and I've rejected those who tried to show care for me. I'm sure you have gone through that too!

Sometimes when I'm told that it's good to enfold and welcome... I do so, as best as I can. But I am worried about whether I'm being too friendly. Perhaps I rush, because I feel I should. But when I choose to just give space... I feel a sense of guilt, that I'm not doing my part. It's a difficult thing, balancing. Perhaps to others it come naturally, but I... I don't know.

We don't want to overwelcome, or to overcare, but OTOH, we don't want to not care or not welcome.

I know one of my CLs last time asked me to accompany a brother who had to go off to run an errand. The brother said no need, but my CL asked me to go accompany him anyway to show care and concern. I thought for a moment, and replied, I don't think I should accompany him. He wouldn't want it. My CL still insisted. I said no again. So my CL gave in. And to the best of my knowledge, it worked out fine after all. :) And the bro and I got along quite fine...

I guess I took a gamble that day, when choosing not to go with the bro to show care and concern for him. Because I felt that he wouldn't really appreciate that. (I think I prayed as well for guidance.) And felt that the Holy Spirit agreed with my decision.

The embarrassment of a well-meant joke, a spilled cup that you meant to give someone, accidentally pulling the wrong plug while you were trying to help pull another plug, the worry behind whether a "how are you" question would be misunderstood, etc.

I know I'm not the wisest or most capable of carers. But I guess in the final analysis, I would rather be guilty of trying too hard than be guilty of not trying at all. Perhaps death due to a well-intentioned attempt is better than living due to not trying. "...if I perish, then I perish." Esther 4:16c. At least I can learn from it... and stumble less next time. Sigh. In all our best intentions, often, we fail so many times. And we need wisdom... but oh, the learning pains.

A dear bro told me before: "The right heart with the wrong actions is better than the wrong heart with the right actions."

Still... sigh. I guess I can at least take heart that God doesn't call the qualified... He qualifies the called. :)

There was Mother Teresa who tried to minister to an old outcast brought in from the streets one day. He was horribly disfigured and dying of cancer. When Mother Teresa tried to approach the old man, the man suddenly spat into her face. He said angrily, "How can you dare to show kindness to a scum like me?" Mother Teresa patiently wiped off the spit off her face, and gently answered, "Because Jesus loves you."

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