Greg and I have been watching the movie “The Soloist” about a homeless ex Julliard musician played by Jamie Fox – and the newspaper man who happens on him in a park and tries to “rescue” him from being “lost” and seemingly abandoned and yes – homeless – played by Robert Downey Jr. This story had me pondering many things today.
1. Sometimes people don’t want to be rescued. We try to “push” our values on people that our less fortunate than we are – only to be rejected. We can’t understand why everyone would not want to live like we do – I mean – don’t we have the “truth” and know the only way to live? We particularly see this when people come from another culture to our churches and neighborhoods. We think that somehow we need to “save” them from themselves – when they were quite happy doing and being just as they were. We also see this in our world today as missionaries and others come from countries of affluence to “aid” in another culture. Sometimes it is welcomed – sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is met with a misunderstanding of gigantic proportions and takes a missionary couple or family years to undo the damage.
2. We assume everyone is just like us. Again big mistake. And since we only have our experiences to draw upon – it is no wonder that we continue to make it. People are as diverse and complicated as the situations that they have found themselves in – or are born in. No one is just like me – and very few come from a family situation like mine – with its own set of uniqueness and dysfunctional issues – the same as your family – and very different from your family. And if my assumption is that not only are you like me – than I anticipate your reactions based on what I would do in situations. Very dangerous – and just plain wrong. The old, “why can’t everyone just think like me” becomes our theme song when times get tough and we can’t figure things out. We have very little tolerance for people that are different at thinking and reacting to things. We even marginalize them. And in our minds – discard them.
3. We expect people to treat us like we treat others. Again this is a HUGE misconception. I have personally struggled with this one time and time again. I say things like, “I would never do that to a friend” – or “Why won’t they play nice – when I am so nice to them” “Why can’t they appreciate all I do for them” etc. It is a slippery slope of disappointment if we expect this. And the “golden rule” doesn’t seem to be in everybody’s vocabulary – let alone living it. Again we don’t always understand everyone completely – nor have we walked where they walk. We don’t have to face what they have to in their place of work – in their home or family. We know very little, really. And yet – we still expect.
4. My role is to just walk in love and forgiveness. Nothing more. I am not equipped to “save” anyone. I cannot rescue people from themselves and the way that they react to difficult situations. I cannot force anyone to see things the way I want them to. I can’t “fix” anyone. That’s God’s job – not mine. And when I understand this – I am free. When I truly embrace this truth – I am free to be who I am gifted to be – with no guilt and no false sense of purpose. I am free to love you – even forgive you for the many unspeakable things that may have been done to me. And for those things that I don’t understand and want to “fix” in you. I am free to live what I believe. I am free to love you beyond what I see with my eyes.
And like the “Soloist” that did not want to be “rescued” by anyone – but he wanted to experience love and peace in his life – I pray that we would all come to the place in our lives where people really matter. Not how they live – or what they do – or look like on the outside – what they own or do not own. But we really see them. Where peace, forgiveness and love reign in our world – unprovoked – and unasked for. Where we truly “see beyond” – and see them as Jesus sees them. I pray that we would have better eyes to experience something we’ve never seen before.