He sat across from me at the coffee shop.
He said he just wanted to help. Just wanted to invest in my life.
He encouraged me to listen to the things he wanted to share.
Then he called me selfish.
He never said it was out of love. He never said he wanted to walk the path with me. In fact, he said “it’s my duty to tell you this.”
He is a leader in the local church. He is a good man.
He just missed on this one.
Oh wait, not the selfish part. He nailed that one on the head. We all have sinful nature and we each lean towards something (maybe pride, anger, gossip). My “lean toward” is, well, myself. Sitting there as the chai warmed through the mug, I began to tear up.
It’s one thing to know it yourself. It is quite another to have a pronouncement made over you. A reminder that your sin is not your own (even if you are selfish).
But for the announcement to be made in judgement and not in love – that’s where he missed the mark.
He had a chance that day to encourage my heart to live for others.
He had a chance to speak truth in love, to remind me of the One who died for my selfishness, to draw me into a deeper relationship with God.
Instead, he left me broken-hearted, ashamed, downcast, and for just a moment, he made me wonder if this was all worth it.
I walked home and called Pastor Tom, a pastor who has known me since I was a kid. I retold the story with a shaky and teary voice and asked, “What now, Tom? What do I do?”
And then Pastor Tom did everything I needed that other guy to do. He acknowledged my sin and reminded me that I am not perfect.
(I hate that.)
But he also reminded me that I am loved, that I am on a journey, that I am a sinner sinking in an ocean of grace. (Thank you, John Mark McMillan, for that beautiful imagery.)
The whole conversation smelled like Jesus. Like it says in 2 Corinthians, somehow that fragrance wafted through the phone and I was wrapped up in it. I was encouraged, I was loved, and I was happy to face the things I needed to face.
I learned an important lesson that day, especially about how to speak to others. Don’t avoid the truth, but wrap the truth in kindness, compassion, and care.
Truth in love changes people.
It’s changing me.
By Annie Downs // AnnieBlogs // the one who is a little selfish 🙂