"YOU CAN'T TELL GROWN PEOPLE NOTHING"
I've heard the above statement countless times throughout my life. Especially living in the South where the family name is practically worshipped and you better not be the one to taint it.
I never really saw too much of a problem with it until I was in college. I would see acquaintances of mine sit back and watch one of their friends make a horrible mistake, and simply brush it off as, "She's grown; you can't tell grown people nothing." It's the idea that people will do what they want to do regardless so there's no point in trying to stop them.
But where does this concept fit within the body of Christ?
Now, I'm certainly not saying that we need to blast our business all over the city (or all over the world for that matter via social media). There are several circumstances in our lives that need to be dealt with in private between me and the Holy Trinity. However, in the context of genuine Christian community, when is the wall between what is to be kept private and what is to be shared with our brothers and sisters for the sake of edification removed?
Towards the end of last year, a friend of mine unexpectedly apologized for her part in my divorce. Needless to say, I was completely taken by surprise and immediately assured her that the destruction of my marriage was not her fault in the least bit. However, she quickly came back and said, "No, as the Church we are supposed to pray with one another in hard times and give each other Godly counsel based on His word and I didn't do that for y'all. I'm sorry." She went on to tell me how she and her husband let their own feelings about some of the conversations they had with my ex-husband caused them to draw back from us altogether instead of pressing into the root of the hurt that was apparently a lot more obvious to those around us than I thought.
I didn't want to admit it at the time, but she was speaking on something that plagued me throughout the months leading up to my ex-husband and I separated. Don't get me wrong, our divorce was our fault. We made that final decision and the aftermath is now ours to deal with. However, there were times when I felt like my community of prayer warriors got ghost when the situation became uncomfortable for them.
They saw the pain. They saw the confusion. The saw the anger. They saw the hurt. They saw us walking down a very dangerous path. But they walked away.
There were older women I admired and turned to for guidance who cancelled coffee dates because "something came up" or didn't show up for major events without any warning. There were ministry leaders who silently smirked when they noticed conversations between he and I taking a wrong turn, but never took the time to talk to use in private about it later. Again, not blaming any of these people for what was going on in my marriage, but where was the accountability?
I have had people tell me they figured that's just how we did things and didn't want to get involved.
Let me just pause right there for a moment.
When on earth did it become acceptable for us to simply watch anyone, Believer or not, participate in seriously damaging behavior because it looks like they enjoy it or are accustom to it? I can't find one scripture that says that is okay (and if you try to twist Romans 1:24 to back up this way of thinking you are delusional). If you see me getting ready to walk into a room that is on fire, please let me know. Likewise, if you tell me you're about to drive down a road you know is severely flooded I promise I won't just standby and watch you slowly drown in your bad decision. Deal?
God's word tells us we are to hold one another accountable within the Church. Not only is it my job to come to those who can pray for with me about the current struggles that are plaguing me, but He also instructs me to lead those who are going astray back to His glory. I am grateful for the people in my life who will call me on my trash and then help me take it out. We are told in Titus 2 that older women are to teach those of us who are new to this wife-mom life how this whole thing is supposed to work. They are supposed to encourage us and show us how to put our selfish desires aside so we can truly serve our family. In the same token, men are supposed to be receptive to the leadership of men who may have already been down the road they are traveling.
But we have become a culture that wants to keep everything bottled up inside, and that is how the enemy gets his power. He thrives off secrecy. He is empowered by shame. Arrogance fuels him.
So, this is my declaration: When destruction appears to be inevitable, I will warn you.
You may hate me.
You may feel I have overstepped my boundaries.
You may never want to see me again.
You may call me out on social media.
You may bring up all of my shortcomings and ask me how dare I say anything to you when I did the same thing.
I'll take that.
I feel like more of us need to be willing to take that.