For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit…
A friend was talking to me about the concept of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, having experienced a disappointing response from her church family when she spiralled into emotional difficulties. While they voiced sympathy and perhaps even empathy while she was there during service, her growing absence (as a result of her emotional burden) reaped little more than apathy.
Which is such a shame because deep down, I’m sure some of her brothers and sisters do notice her absence and perhaps they even worry for her on some level. But it’s so easy to forget someone when they’re not right there in front of your eyes. It’s harder to make the effort to remember who’s not there, to reach out and say hi and ask what that person needs from you.
It’s easy too, to offer reasons as to why we don’t stay in touch – I’m busy focusing on other people who need me, someone else will look after them, they’re the one who’s chosen to pull away etc.
We might assume that a hurting person needs to be left alone. In fact, being left alone might be the very thing a hurting person asks for. Sometimes, that may be exactly what they need when they feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, ashamed or confused about what’s happening in their life.
But even if a hurting person needs to be physically alone in order to heal, they need to know they’re not alone in spirit. (Click to tweet)
A dear friend of mine said something many months ago that rang with regrettable truth: “When you’re in a church, you can feel a part of so many things. But when you stop going, it feels like you never existed to those people. It makes you question what you really had with them in the first place.”
As Easter approaches, I think more and more about the thieves on the cross – one demanded that Jesus save him from physical death, but the other held greater fear over spiritual death. Our bruises may fade, our cuts may heal, but without spiritual connection with our brothers and sisters we run the risk of abandoning hurting souls to slowly deteriorate from the inside out.
Have you noticed someone’s absence? Do they know they’re not alone in spirit? And how’s your own relationship with your church family?