If like me you like spending a bit of time watching stuff on Youtube you may well enjoy the stuff where people get hurt. I'm particularly fond of the faceplant clips of cyclists going over the handlebars, but to be fair, I'm happy to watch just about anything that involves someone else getting hurt through their own foolishness. As the old (or perhaps more modern) adage goes; life's only funny until someone gets hurt, then it's hilarious.
Whilst this may well be true on Youtube, it's actually far from the case in real life and especially with one's friends. Right now I feel a bit like I'm watching a faceplant video in slow motion as my good mate Michael's life seems to be unraveling right in front of me. It's particularly upsetting after five years of friendship and discipleship to see the wheels coming off a friend's life before your very eyes.
The other aspect of what is happening to Michael that really gets me is the fact that those who should be there to support him and walk with him are nowhere to be seen. I'm spending as much time as I can with him but would love to see his church step up and reach out to him. Sadly it didn't happen at the time of him losing Hayden so I can't really see it happening now, so on Sunday we're going to try and get him along to Grace where he's not really known and so won't be judged.
I've been fermenting a post about church and why it can be such a hurtful place to be when it should be just the opposite but that's for a later date. One thing I will pick up for now on this theme though is how so many churches are eager to demand time and commitment from their members and how some are dogmatic bordering on legalistic in this and yet, when the shoe is on the other foot and the church member needs the church and particularly the leadership to step up and be committed to walking with them suddenly the church goes very quiet and slinks off into the background. This is Michael's experience, he's been a very faithful member and served well over the years I've known him, but now he's walking a very lonely path. I have no answers to this other than to say it makes me very angry and I can only imagine how Jesus feels when he looks at his bride.
All I can do is stand with Michael and try as hard as possible to be there for him and the members of our church that I know are experiencing hard times and to exercise the grace that has so freely been given us. I know I fail in my care of church members but hopefully it's not for lack of trying.