Today's article is another installment in Brother P.'s column, "Lessons From the Nursing Home."
Hello. My job is to help people who are in a nursing home return home or at least become more independent in functioning. Often, in order to get them moving, I ask them permission to take them on a walk. Most often they are agreeable, but sometimes they just don’t want to walk.
You would not believe the refusals that I have heard. “I don’t want to walk,” or “I can’t walk now because I am too tired (or hurting, or constipated, or hungry, or thirsty, or whatever).” One man told me that he was in a “rest-home” and should get to “rest!” Some avoid having to refuse me by pretending that they are asleep.
One very revealing response that I've heard is the one I call the “sensitive” answer. When I ask if the person is willing to walk with me, they respond by saying something like this, “You probably think that I am lazy, but I am not lazy, I am usually a very hard worker and not lazy, so don’t think that I am lazy, but I cannot walk now because (insert one of the aforementioned excuses). I am not lazy.”
Of course, my first thought is “Wow, this person is very afraid of being called lazy. They are probably lazy.”
How could this possibly apply to church?
Maybe when the preacher says that we need to read our scriptures a little more and my first thought is “I read enough, how does he know how much I read, my reading is fine, maybe he should mind his own business because I read the scriptures.” Just maybe that is because I am sensitive about the fact that I am not reading enough — or praying enough or tithing or helping or singing during congregational singing, etc… Maybe I am being sensitive because I am really just lazy.
I wonder if this is a tool we can use? When the brother says something from the pulpit — or anyone says anything at any time — that makes me feel extra-sensitive, then maybe I can introspect (a word for looking inside myself) and see if there is something I need to work on?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.