On Sunday morning during my sermon (Mark that Moment), I said” I really don’t care about anyone and it’s only my calling and God’s working in my heart that causes me to care. It’s a work of God in my heart.”- Well… something to that effect. I also said I would be happy living alone with my wife in West Virginia somewhere. Away from everyone. Well – that isn’t entirely true. The truth is for about 6 or so months now I have been battling with the whole “I care/don’t care ” thing. Trust me – it has been a war.
It started about 6 months or so ago, (give or take a few hours, days, weeks or months) a long time friend of mine was at my house. This friend has known me since Kindergarten and yes he remains my friend, crazy right? He said something to me that has haunted my mind from the moment he finished saying it… He said “Phillip what hasn’t changed about you over the years is – you care about people. It was true of you in our school days and it’s still true of you know.” (this is at lest how I remember his statement.) I immediately verbally rejected his notion but it bothered me deeply. On Sunday I publicly told people I didn’t care though I cared for the people in the church – outside of its walls no so much. This wasn’t a message to him at all, it was just me trying to convince myself I really don’t care about people. I was trying to win a war in my own mind.
But there was a problem… that problem was my friend’s voice. And his voice in my mind got louder and louder. It woke me up during the night, it came to me while I was watching a movie, driving my car, while I was eating, etc… It would not shut up. To make matters worse my soul began to agree with him. My mind didn’t want him to be right and fought and fought and fought till it couldn’t fight anymore because it to had come to the place where it had conceded to the truth. A truth I have tried to get rid of for a while now… I do care deeply for people… and I always have.
Why? Why? Why? Did I allow myself, force myself to be someone who didn’t really care about people? Why have I spent so much energy in my prayers, my conversations to people, etc… to try to make something true of me that isn’t true? Why did I fight this so hard?
I have been hurt… many times… and if I didn’t care anymore… maybe the hurt would go away.
I was hurt at a church early on in my ministry, back when when I was very naive. I thought that if you followed God with your heart Christians would be fine with that and you would never have any trouble even if you disagreed. I was wrong and the reality of the dark side of “mature believers” hit me very hard… and it hurt.
I have been hurt by a pastor I partnered with in ministry for a while that turned out to be my enemy. It is actually the first time I had ever considered someone my enemy in ministry.
I have been hurt by people intentionally and unintentionally. There have been changes in friendships over the years because of change in direction. Though I am still friends with them it still hurt because of the change that occurred.
I have been hurt by what people have said about me from time to time. Many times I have unable to defend myself because there is more going on than I can really speak to. In other words if I could betray others people’s confidences I could prove that their statements are wrong about me. But I can’t betray those confidences – so they are left to believe whatever they made up about me. Further more it hurts when after “a life time of investment” – one not so uncomfortable situation is enough for someone to abandon you, and believe something about you that isn’t true.
So to make a long story short, I have tried and tried and tried to be a person that doesn’t care. I have gone to great lengths to accomplish this goal. I have been very unsuccessful in my attempts. I can’t stop caring for people because God has written that design into the deepest places of my being. This is not the gift of mercy – this is the gift of caring. Those are two different things. Caring is a double edged sword, it produces a lot of good things but there are people who take it and hurt you knowing you care enough to feel the emotional pain they inflict. So what I have come to realize with the help of a long time friend, is I’ve really never stopped caring for people . It’s how God designed me. What He has done however is continued to work on my heart so that I would live that out in my life for His glory. He has never given up on stoking that gift He placed with in me.
All that to say, I’m sorry for saying I don’t care about people this past Sunday. Its just not true and even if I moved to West Virginia and became a hermit, it would only be because hurt had driven me there and If you can be hurt that much it only means you care for people a lot more than you want to admit.