Do I Matter?

Cec, a contractor friend, came this week to fix a few problems that begged for repair. Over time, buildings and equipment sag, split, collapse, leak, stop up, tear out, wear out, or any other manner of decay and decline. Those damaged parts can be equated to the personal issues and conflicts that interrupt my sleep or concentration. All too often, I neglect repair of the discord, rejection, and emotional pain that comes into my life. I’ll make sure the roof or sink gets repaired but I tend to ignore the afflictions that impact my soul and spirit. At first, it seems easier to block out my hurt when I’m ignored or to dismiss a slight from a friend. But the injury remains. I’ve learned it will manifest itself in anger or resentment if I don’t deal with it.

Afterward, Cec and I took ten minutes for tea. That stretched beyond half an hour as we caught up on one another’s lives. Years ago, our kids played basketball and soccer together. Now, his kids are married and he is mostly alone. I asked how he came to America. As he talked, the sadness that he had worn like a garment that morning began to fall off his shoulders. He became animated as he told how he and his wife had come here as refugees from Thailand, with two small children and little more than the clothes on their backs. In hopes of a better existence, they had abandoned everything they knew to re-purpose their lives. Or had they?

I don’t think so. His purposes remained the same—to build a better life for his family. None of that changed though he now lived half a world away from where he was born. Now that his family is gone, he feels they don’t need him anymore. But he needs them. He didn’t say it, but he needs to know he matters. And since he’s alone, he has no one with whom to discuss the daily burdens and joys that make up the matrix of his life.

Yesterday as I walked toward the entrance of the post office, a large man approached, the pain of his existence marking his face like a shield. I surprised myself by saying, “How are you today?”

He ignored my greeting and at first, I felt violated. Has he no respect? I put myself out for him!

Then I realized—it’s not about you, Sam. That man had nothing within himself to give back. How great is his burden of pain, rejection, perhaps hatred. My spirit softened and I felt peace toward him.

A Woman of Uganda

The photograph I’m including in this posting is of a woman I saw at a distance in Gulu, Uganda. I glanced toward her several times as she and two other women were apparently waiting for a bus. Not once did she change expression. Knowing the horrors that enveloped that country beginning with Idi Amin and since, I almost weep each time I look at her picture.

For those of you who may be alone—no one to care that you exist—know that Jesus knows of you. His heart breaks for you in your loneliness. He is there for you.

And for you who see those solemn faces occasionally in the daily passage through your day, give them your word of greeting, expecting nothing in return. In some measure, that could be the words of our Lord who said, “When I was hungry and thirsty … and you gave to me …”


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Do I Matter?

  1. Stan Baldwin says:

    Good post, Sam. Maybe the difference in typical male vs. female responses is mostly gender generated. We Christians do say that men and women are created differently in more ways than just their plumbing. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they behave differently. In our now nearly 64 years of marriage to each other, Marge and I have at last come to (mostly) recognize and accept our personality differences. Sure makes our lives together a lot better!

  2. Mike Darr says:

    Well, for me communication with my wife about the things that need fixing has always been an issue. I don’t share my hurts very well and the things that need to be fixed I stuff until I’m forced to face them. I guess I like simple solutions not drawn out touchee feelee resolutions that take up to much time. To be honest, I was brought up to be the provider and protector and sharing my inmost feelings are difficult. However what you say does make sense,Sam.

    • samuelehall says:

      Good show, Mike! Transparency, that’s what they want. But I know it’s not always that easy. There’s all the drama that surrounds our relationship with our mate. I’m like you; just get on with life. I’ve handled the issue (sorta) so let’s don’t make a big deal out of things.
      But usually, I haven’t handled the issue. You understand.

  3. You’re right, Sam. We need to extend ourselves to one another. Everyone has been lonely or felt despair at some point in their lives.

  4. Lindy Swanson says:

    Overcoming avoidance–resolving emotional and spiritual issues, like forgiveness–is a hallmark of spiritual maturity. The first step to overcoming a challenge is to recognize it exists. The message of _Victory over the Darkness_, _Bondage Breaker_ and the guided prayer called “The Steps to Freedom” (all by Neil Anderson) are the most useful tools toward this end that I’ve encountered to help people recognize and resolve emotional, spiritual challenges and habitual sin. The message of _How We Love_ (Milan and Kay Yerkovich) takes it to the next level by showing how to support one’s spouse or friends in sharing their story, so that one does not take personally their emotional responses, that have nothing to do with the present, that are triggered from their past.
    I’ve heard it said that most men feel like a relationship is working if they don’t have to talk about their feelings or problems. On the other hand, most women feel like their relationship is working if they can talk about their feelings and problems. Talk about a set-up for conflict! There’s a great theme for a book or plot.
    I wonder what causes this different response to personal and spiritual conflict resolution in men and women? Is it cultural conditioning that causes men to suppress and avoid feelings? Is it a form of being deceived or willingly deceived? Is it pride, unforgiveness or something else? Do genes come into play in this equation in the way they influence how men’s and women’s brains work? The wash of testosterone that flows over a baby boy’s brain, while in the womb, shrinks the corpus callosum, so that the right and left hemispheres do not communicate as effortlessly, as they do in women. What do you think?

    • samuelehall says:

      Excellent comments, Lindy! Thank you for the references + the provocative questions.
      I don’t believe it’s cultural conditioning that causes men to suppress the expression of their feelings. My friend, Cec, who I referred to in this posting is from an Asian culture and he is much like the rest of us mute men. As are all the men that I have talked with to any extent from other cultures. That isn’t to say that each man’s culture does not affect his ability/need/inclination to express his emotions, however.
      I wouldn’t say it’s pride for me. Probably more like fear.
      What about the rest of you guys?

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