Monday, March 17, 2008

let's make the worst of it.

let's make the worst of it.

A few months ago I went online to find a coupon for my oil change. While on the Texaco site I saw that they offered a delightful coloring book for children. The title was "Lubie and the Lovable Looney Lubettes." I am not making this up.
In the online coloring book, a friendly gang of oil goes camping with a family. The whole thing was ridiculous, but my favorite scene was when the oil went for a canoe ride. I love the oil that is snorkeling. He looks so smug and cocky. And the family can't get in the water because, well there's oil in the lake. But perhaps the funniest part is how mad the eagle looks in the upper left corner. It's hard to see in this image, but I promise you he's really angry at that oil.

This, is such a perfect example of trying to make the best out of a bad situation. It's been a rough year for oil. Gas prices are through the roof, the war has raised lots of tough questions and going green is super popular. So some wily copywriter or graphic designer convinced Texaco that it would be good to tell kids how cuddly and fun oil is. They are sugarcoating a bad situation with the hope that if they pretend everything is alright, then it will magically become alright.

Sometimes I think it's easy to fall into a similar trap with our faith. When faced with difficult situations we feel like admitting distress is going to be seen as failure by other people. So instead of being honest and admitting something hurts, we pretend everything is OK. We become plastic fantastics.

We smile and shine and use the Christian F word when people ask us questions:
"How's my marriage? Fine."
"How's my job? Fine."
"How's my family? Fine."

I'm not sure why this happens. It might be that secretly, on some levels, even really tiny ones we feel that God loves good people. Or maybe he just loves them more. So when good things happen we think that tells people that we're being good and God is just responding to that goodness. And when bad things happen it must mean we're doing something bad and God is just paying that back.

So we hide behind words like "fine" and "OK," but that's not what the Bible says. There are a million verses about this, but my favorite is probably Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

That's enough for me. If you want comfort, you have to admit you've been hurt. If you want comfort, you have to mourn. If you want comfort you have to retire the word fine and fake.

So let's not make oil go camping or sugarcoat our problems.

Let's make the worst of it.

This post goes well with:
1. Be sick.

1 comment:

JJ said...

For a while during that post I was thinking, "How can you color online?"

You bring up a pretty cyclical idea. We don't want to burden people with our problems for two reasons 1) people have have problems of their own so we don't want to add to their burden and 2) people really don't care. So many of our churches don't offer authentic community so no one talks about how sometimes life sucks.

That's why I think small groups can be a brilliant thing. Building real community with several other people or couples builds intimacy within the Church. You begin to realize and witness the struggles our brothers and sisters encounter in life. When someone close to you is hurting you don't just ignore that. I think it's unnatural for someone to have had their life ratified by Christ and then ignore a difficult problem in a friend's life. Maybe that's it...maybe we just don't like people enough to hear their burdens.