faith

Blame or Pray?

61 degrees and sunny. Do I wear a coat or no? It certainly doesn’t look warm outside, but the app says it’s 61 outside.

I wear a coat.

*

I took my dog for a walk today. Walking out in an empty field, I let him off his leash so he could be free to smell, pee and poop wherever he wanted. Such joy he had on his face. He could be a dog…freely.

Pondering this idea of “dog freedom”, my brain began dwelling on numbers. Having walked a short way, I was glad I wore my coat. It didn’t feel like it was 61, but then again, I’m always cold in the winter time. Still, the app said 61.

A number. A number. What’s in a number?

The app said 61. It didn’t feel like 61. Does the number matter? To some, in this season of the pandemic, numbers are everything. To others, numbers are overblown. Still, for those like me, life, a single life, is much more than a number.

*

One of my tías (aunt, in Spanish) passed away last week. It was expected as she had been in poor health in recent years. We weren’t close – she lived in California for my entire life while I lived in Arizona and Washington – but she was a lovely and lively person to be around. She even made a couple of trips up here to Washington state to visit me. No other reason to visit my side of the state, but she did. I treasure that.

Thinking about that today, I recalled a tweet I saw that talked about the number of COVID-related deaths in the state was over 5,000.

Throughout the pandemic we’ve been inundated with statistics at world, national and local levels. Hundreds of thousands of deaths. Unfortunately, those stats have been used by some to promote their own agenda. I have to ask myself, however, do we care about the life beyond the number or just the number?

As I walked, I was having an internal discussion with myself about this. At my age, I try and see both sides of the issue. In so doing, I’m less prone to judgement of a person’s point-of-view.

What was I discussing with myself, you may ask? Well, I understand the need for the stats, but so many times I see people use them to lash out at others. In their fear, anger and pain, they point the finger of blame. Something has gone wrong and there has to be someone to blame, right?

I get it. When our emotions are swirling or we feel out of control, our reactions can follow in kind. Believe me, I’ve had a lifetime of choices where I led with my emotions despite my advice saying, “Step back before you react.”

Well, I didn’t always take my own advice. I’d react angrily or fearfully toward someone else and felt justified because I was in pain. Someone else was to blame, not me for lashing out.

Naturally, I kept dwelling on the concept of blame. Folks would rather blame than lament. Republicans, Democrats. Black, white. Us, them. My tía isn’t in those stats, but she was more than a number to me anyway. Should her life be any less mourned than those who died from COVID?

I could feel my blood pressure rising. I could feel my anger growing. It’s easier to blame someone else for our problems rather than reconcile with our own choices, was my thinking. Why can’t they…

When you see fault in others, that is your cue to pray for them.

Umm…excuse me?

When you begin to see fault in someone else, Sunny, I want you to pray for them.

God, do we really need to go there?

*Silence*

Meditating on this while I walked, I talk-texted these words:

When we begin to see fault in others, that is our cue to pray for them. And if we choose – and make no mistake here, it is a choice – to NOT pray for them, it shows the level of pride and selfishness we have in our hearts that we can’t even serve another just by praying for them.

OUCH!

For the rest of my walk, I wrestled with this. When I am in pain…and I begin to blame another for that pain…how in the world do I pray for them? I can’t, God. How?

Pray for them. Luke 6:27-28 says (HCSB):

But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Jesus said four key things in the “Beatitudes” that apply here:

  1. Love your enemies
  2. Do what is good to those who hate you
  3. Bless those who curse you
  4. Pray for those who mistreat you

When we blame someone, it usually means there’s been some form of mistreatment, right? Jesus’ instructions are pretty clear in how to handle those situations: Pray for them.

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When I begin to get critical of someone else, for ANY reason, that is a sign that I need to pray. And not some simple prayer, “Dear God, Change them. Amen.” Nope. Serious prayer which involves a submitted heart before God. There’s no app for that.

No, I need to check my heart at heaven’s door, seek God’s forgiveness for my pride and selfishness and pray for whatever He lays on my heart for them. Not for me. FOR them.

My coat was making me sweat. It was 61 degrees, after all. Or….

Maybe it was the word of correction God just gave me.

***

Knees Down, Prayers Up,

Sunny