A longtime friend and colleague called me the other day asking if I remembered an incident that must have happened twenty-five years ago, where we called on someone who had recently attempted suicide. Turns out that guy is still alive and still remembers us with gratitude. He wants to have lunch with my friend.
The thing is that neither one of us could remember the actual occasion. My friend is not a minister, but he is in a caring profession—he has helped hundreds, maybe thousands of people suffering from mental anguish. And I have too.
After so many years, it’s hard to keep them all straight At the time each encounter is significant. Each person we help is important. And each occasion gives me some satisfaction that I did my job that day.
How is it that I can’t remember a specific one?
Oh, I know it it’s buried in the brain cells somewhere. And I understand that as I get older I can’t keep it straight in my convoluted mental files. After all, there really have been so many. But I don’t want to forget.
After I wrote my last post I realized I also forgot how many people have helped me. I don’t have any right to complain when I think about the people who have done some wonderful things for me—acts of love, kindness, and generosity. Words of encouragement and friendship. Some of them read this blog. Thank you.
What causes such searing loneliness within me? I am inclined to blame the ministry for it, and there’s some legitimacy to that, but I remember feeling this isolation as a child before I went into the ministry, so maybe it’s more a part of my personality makeup.
Regardless of how I feel, when I think about how, because of the sheer number, I can’t remember the exchanges of grace I’ve had, I should not let myself be mired in bitterness.