“I’m tired, boss. Tired of bein’ on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we’s coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other. I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There’s too much of it. It’s like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?”
–John Coffey, The Green Mile
Today I’m feeling heavy, for at least a couple of reasons.
First, I am feeling the effects of the thickening, growing, ugly meanness with which I see people treating those who disagree with them. I know there’s always been hatred and contempt between political, religious, and ideological adversaries, but I can’t remember it being this dark ever before in my lifetime. I cannot turn on the news in any form (or any source) without feeling like I’m being hit with agenda-driven propaganda. And it seems like the goal is not to discredit, but to destroy the “other side.”
Cancel culture seems that it’s becoming the rule rather than the exception whenever opposing views collide. Rather than trying to listen, understand, and persuade, it has become normal to yell, accuse, and eliminate anyone and anything that triggers or threatens a mentality or mindset.
I don’t see much kindness. And it makes me tired and sad.
Second, I went to the funeral of a longtime friend today. Jay and I were Bible college classmates, and then later on staff together at the same school. Jay affected everyone he ever came into contact with…in a good way. Jay was kind, funny, caring, direct, fair, and most of all, he was kind. He and I didn’t keep up much over the past 20 years, and I wish that we had.
At his service today, person after person talked about Jay’s character. And what kept coming out again and again was how kind he was, how much he cared about and loved everyone. Even struggling with a debilitating illness for over 20 years, Jay’s life was still the opposite of all the ugliness I described above.
In Jay, I saw nothing but kindness. And it makes me happy thinking about him.
I think there’s probably another reason I’m feeling heavy today. I walk with a lot of people seeking recovery from addiction, and some days it’s hard not to share the feelings of darkness and heaviness they are walking through.
People desperate to hide their addiction believe that if their secrets ever came out, they would be rejected, abandoned, cancelled. Looking around, it’s no wonder why they believe that. Besides the shame that every addict goes through – shame that causes them to anticipate the worst-case scenario should they ever be exposed – they also see the way people treat each other every day and it reinforces their fears. For good reason.
I wonder sometimes if we all treated one another the way my friend Jay treated everyone in his life, if more people who struggle would come forward and ask for help. I wonder if they would have hope that there could be acceptance even in their brokenness. I don’t know if it would make that much of a difference, but I know it wouldn’t hurt. (*Side note: If you need help, CLICK HERE to ask for it.)
What would it look like for us to pursue kindness with one another today?
What would it look like if we had the perfect zinger/insult for our ideological opponent, but chose not to use it?
What would it look like to bless and not curse; to ask more questions and make fewer judgmental statements; to wait on sharing our opinions until we were asked for them?
“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” -Ephesians 4:32 (CSB)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” -Romans 12:14, 21 (CSB)
Anyone want to try this out with me?
Greg Oliver is the Executive Director of Awaken, a faith-based recovery ministry dedicated to walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders toward healing and recovery from sexual brokenness. Awaken offers in-person and online recovery groups for men & women struggling with unwanted sexual behavior, and for women experiencing sexual betrayal trauma. We also offer 1-on-1 and couple’s coaching, and recovery intensives and workshops. For more info on any of our resources, check out the rest of our site or CLICK HERE.