Warning: Forget about zombies…. we’re under attack of a two headed dragon lie. This dragon is trying to kill what God so desperately wants to create- community. Today we’re gone slay that lie like the warriors of love we are, and want to be. It’s the lie that if we compare our situations, pains and struggles and joys and they don’t measure equal or greater than- we have no right or responsibility to share them. LIE. let’s take on one ugly head of this dragon at a time.
The first lie like sounds like this: “I feel stupid even sharing with what you’re going through…..” “It’s nothing compared to what you have going on…” And-the even sadder: “I don’t even want to share this good news with them.. because I know how hard life is for them right now… my news will just make them feel worse.” The second ugly head of the lie looks like this: “That’s nothing. Really? Here’s what I’m going through- you should be thankful that’s all you have on your plate. Suck it up buttercup.”
That first head is usually pretty noisy and vocal. It’s in your face- comparing pain, heaping on guilt and withholding joy. The second is usually a it more stealthy…. it’s often noticed in a look, an attitude a feeling and ocassionally loudly and proudly roaring to fend off connection.
Here’s the thing; this dragon needs to die. Both heads are damaging to relationships. The first self inflicts flaming guilt at the speaker and shoots smoldering guilt embers to the listener. The speaker feels like they shouldn’t be in pain or struggling with whatever they are struggling with. Or, they don’t want to share their joy as if their joy makes someone else’s pain somehow- worse. They feel GULTY for good news. The listener feels bad that their pain makes someone else feel guilty for sharing their struggles, and feel let out of sharing in someone else’s joy. It also has another insidious side effect- the listener feels like because they are struggling they are being judged as too selfish or hurting to care for someone else’s pain or joy. Both are left feeling guilty. Disconnected. Less than. The second head is equally diabolical and destructive. It lives to compete for the martyr crown. This dragon head snaps and bites to trump everyone else’s pain. It minimizes the struggles of others it in order to be seen as some kind of amazing martyr. It injects a selfish venom in it’s bite.
The result of these dragon attacks are the same- separation. Guilt, Fear, Judgment (or the feeling of being judged) all lead to destruction of intimacy. Killing (or at least )damaging community. When people feel they can’t share their pain and joy they don’t feel connected. Because they aren’t. They are separated by a two headed dragon of lies.
its time to slay the dragon. It’s time to stop comparing our pain and start sharing it. It’s time to respect the struggles of others and be honest about the struggles of our own.
Here’s what we’re learning about this two headed dragon during our three year battle of cancer and other huge struggles: Shared pain is more bearable. Shared joy is more joyful. Sharing pain breeds compassion and understanding and intimacy, sharing joy breeds hope and joy. It all creates intimacy and community.
It slays the dragon.
Today- as we continue through the holidays- I want to slay the dragon. I refuse to compare our pain or minimize the pain of others. I refuse to be unavailable to the joy of others. I choose love. I choose sharing- not comparing. I choose intimacy not isolation. I hope you will to.
Like all Dragon slaying- it will require courage and wisdom…. and maybe a bit of armor. Sharing in someone else’s pain can hurt, sharing in another’s joy when you are hurting can be bittersweet. It can sting. But it’s worth it to grow hope….it can be the tilling of the soil hope needs to grow in.
Let’s do it- lets slay this beast and built community. I already know I can’t do it on my own. I’m too selfish and human and have a heart that automatically judges and compares. I AM the two headed dragon. (With slightly better hair.) Or- I can be on any given day. Somedays- both in the same day. (Trips to the cancer center can do that to you. It’s a bipolar mix of survivors and the sick. Trust me.)
“Dear Lord- I love you- it hurts when I see people comparing or withholding their struggles from each other. I can see the damage it does to relationships- and I know your heart is for us to love one another- give us courage and wisdom lord- give us a bit of armor to bear the sting that sometimes comes with the sweet. Lord help us share in joy and in pain- the way you do, help us create community – we are stronger and better together- we need each other as a body needs it’s parts- help us slay this dragon- I love you lord- amen.”
” Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge,my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” From Roman’s 12