“RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”

As the kids were leaving the sanctuary after the Children’s Talk, one little, very spirited and lovable boy was sprinting out the back, screaming, “Run for your lives!”

I sense that I was either the only one who heard him or the only one who found it entertaining, because I was laughing by myself. I know this kid, and I know that he obviously wasn’t making some profound comment on the service. He was just being a kid who’s imagination had thrown him into a world where there was impending danger, so there wasn’t any reason to take it very seriously. However, on another level, can’t we all relate? Don’t we all have those moments where we want to literally sprint out the back door, screaming a warning to others? Storm out of the office? Overturn a desk at school? Sprint out of the church? Some days it just feels like a good time to throw up the arms and exit stage left.

The kid’s extreme sanctuary exit reminded me of the Take Two Beers and Jump! social media phenomenon. In 2010, a flight attendant by the name of Steven Slater had had enough as the plane landed in New York. A passenger had struck the final nerve by cursing at Steve, and Steve went to the microphone, dropped the ‘F-Bomb’ in the direction of the passenger, grabbed two beers from the plane refrigerator, and after deploying the inflatable emergency slide, he bailed. He became an instant web sensation. SNL star Jimmy Fallon even included Steve’s story in a song.

Let’s be honest. Steve’s actions were extremely irresponsible, but kind of awesome, too. We’ve all been to that point many times and in many situations. Only we haven’t gone through with it because we didn’t think it would be worth the implications, didn’t have the guts, or there wasn’t any cold beer to take. It’s natural for all of us to want to scream “Run for your lives!” as we run out of the room, to want to yell expletives into a microphone, grab those two brewskies, and peace-out.

One of the best things and one of the worst things about being in Belfast is that I’m not home. Not in Greeneville, not in Auburn. Not a phone call away. Not a get-in-the-car-and-go distance from friends and family. I haven’t realized how hard it is to be away from friends, family, and communities until the past few weeks. Several people close to me have lost loved ones, found themselves in exciting or stressful times of transition, or are “at their limit” when it comes to what life has thrown at them. And it feels like “being there for them” doesn’t mean a thing because geography begs to differ. Whether we’re simply frustrated and want to pull a Steve Slater or whether we are going through something pretty heavy, we need some support.

This post isn’t about having the answers for when we find ourselves and others in situations of frustration or grief, wanting to crawl into a cave or wanting to take two beers and jump. Too often, “Christians” like to act like they have the answers. They (we) don’t. (Please, if you haven’t seen this, read 10 Cliches Christians Should Avoid.) Instead of throwing around so-called “answers” to one another when we’re in crappy times, we should just focus on being there for each other.

The last time I preached at Dundonald Methodist Church, I used this news clip about a home run that turned into a deeply moving display of sportsmanship. It’s a true testament and example of what it means to carry others, even when it’s not easy.

Throughout this year I have learned how important it is to be there for others, how much it means to carry others and to be carried when we’re struggling, when we’re ready to run out on our churches, our jobs, our houses screaming, “Run for your lives!”

So how about we cutdown on offering attempts at answers when bad things happen and when we’re frustrated with the day-to-day, and focus more on carrying one another around the bases?

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About Patrick

I am currently serving through the Young Adult Volunteer program, a program of the PC(USA), in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Just over a year ago, I graduated from Auburn University where I studied philosophy, religious studies concentration, and anthropology. I love spending time in a hammock, a good cup of coffee, and I'm always jonesin' for some Bluegrass covers of pop songs. View all posts by Patrick

One response to ““RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”

  • Terry Ley

    Patrick, once again you have given me something good to think about. I am grateful that I have not wanted to scream “Run for your lives!” very many times in my long life–which is good, right? Your advice is good: Don’t give too much advice. The “10 Cliches…” article is a keeper. We are tempted to rely on such cliches when we’re under fire–or when others are, and look to us for comfort. I have already sent your message and Piatt’s to friends likely to find them helpful. Are you due back home soon? I hope so….I am ready to read or hear your “What Ireland Taught Me” piece whenever you are of a mind to produce it. I suspect that what you have learned there will surface in your own sermons–and, of course, in your living–for many years to come.

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