Facing relational issues head on

Published 10:21 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

For those of us who follow the liturgical calendar in our churches, we are in the midst of the 40 days of Lent. It’s a somber time, we are told. It’s a time to reflect on the sufferings of Jesus and give up something, or take on something. A lot of us use this time as an excuse to lose a little weight or get away from that bad habit that is plaguing us, which is all well and good, but Lent is not just a time for us to give up something that we should give up anyway. It’s a time to gain a deeper awareness of God, and the ways God is moving in our lives. It’s a time to put the focus on God a little more, and me a little less.

Of course that doesn’t mean we can’t give up on some things that keep us separated from each other. Psychotherapist Curt Thompson gives an interesting insight in the book “The Soul of Shame.” He was writing about the third chapter of Genesis — the part where the snake tempts Eve to eat the apple of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It’s always been a fascinating story for me — about how Eve and Adam take a chomp out of the apple from the one tree God told them to avoid, and then they spend all their energy blaming each other.

But Thompson had another take on it. He said that when the snake tempted Eve, she could have talked to God. But instead Eve and the snake spent their time talking about God. Thompson pointed out that when shame — that nagging, pestering feeling that we are never good enough — pops up all we do is talk about someone, when maybe the best thing for us to do is to talk to or with them.

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It got me to thinking about all the time I waste talking about someone with whom I have an issue, rather than talking to them, and getting the issues straightened out. We all do it; it’s a lot easier to talk about someone than to take the tougher road and be vulnerable with them in the course of human interaction. It’s easier to send nasty emails and text messages than it is to sit down and talk with someone face-to-face about what’s going on.

Talking with someone rather than talking about someone strengthens our relationship. But it also strengthens us. It brings God into the relationship rather than my desire to control.

May this Lent be a good time for us to let go of our desire to only talk about others. Instead may this be a good time to talk to them. It’s tougher, sure, but it is worth it.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address if robin216@embarqmail.com.