Sweating Bullets

20140405_225332In her preparation to speak at her Mom’s memorial service yesterday my amazing wife shared a quote from my Mom-in-law that I indeed recalled but had not thought of for some time. It bears repeating:

“Community is a fragile thing. Community needs your faith, forgiveness and love. Do not let pettiness come between you and your family and your Community.” -Dawn Mortimer

Pettiness. Little foxes. Small stuff we sweat and get uptight about. Assumed snubs. “I was misunderstood” or misinterpreted. The “apparent” (or not!) lack of sensitivity -which is sometimes our own hyper-sensitivity to our massive sense of “self” and personal “honor”. Our pride or insecurity takes a hit.

I and likely most of my readers have blown it plenty in each of these areas.

It’s one thing to BE insensitive, it’s another to live a prima donna-like, super fragile existence where you may be so self-absorbed you don’t realize how you’ve trained (or tried to) people to “walk on eggshells” around you.

Have you known people, perhaps a family member, someone at your place of work or in a sports league you’re part of where you’ve learned: “With this person DON’T push THAT button”?!

We all know we have such “buttons”, but it’s often exactly as Dawn said- pettiness.

All of us need sane, healthy boundaries. But oh how some of our boundaries have or had nothing to do with the grace, wisdom or forgiveness of God but rather our own demand for “first place” in life.

If I have one complaint in my years of fellowship, travel and ministry among the people of God, regardless of “kind” of Christian church, denomination, theology, doctrine or simply style of worship and ministry, it’s that in each and every place the lack of grace and compassion that surfaces is often a matter of pettiness among us.

According to Dictionary.Com:

“pettiness” -adjective, pet·ti·er, pet·ti·est.

1. of little or no importance or consequence: petty grievances.
2. of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.; minor: petty considerations.
3. having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.: petty minds.
4. mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person.
5.showing or caused by meanness of spirit: a petty revenge.

Now if this were only happening between people of Christian faith it’d be bad enough, but the fact is any two people can fall into it on occasion. Worse, it can be habit-forming.

Dawn loved the church in all it’s forms but every so often we would swap stories of her experiences of difficulties in church life. She had been a pastor’s wife for many years in several towns, cities and different denominations. She loved, understood and lived community more than anyone I know. She deeply loved people and had a great deal more patience in relationships than I.

My understanding of her concern was that pettiness was the sort of bad attitude that led to people hurting people, to various sins that could bring real damage relationally.

“The thief comes not except to rob, and to kill and to destroy” is what Jesus said about the devil. Sadly, pettiness seems linked to such a sick, selfish ethic.

May God deliver us from it into the faith, forgiveness and love we all so desperately need!

Community has become quite the buzzword over the past several years. Articles, books and audio/video messages have centered on it. What faith, forgiveness and love foster is indeed, community.

Pettiness shows up a lot like the potholes of Chicago in springtime. When all around us is sprouting and blooming, people hit these things with their cars and… well, you know the rest 🙂

God help us to live and interact with more of Your heart as my sweet Mom-in-law surely did!

Things to consider on this Spring day 🙂

And thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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4 thoughts on “Sweating Bullets

  1. thank for the pothole metaphor. It really helps illuminate my pettiness and helps me put my pettiness in perspective. Just potholes to avoid or when riding other them realizing they are only bumps in the road. Keep on target, blue leader!

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