We are uniquely created in God’s image. The key phrase for me is that we are unique, and with the uniqueness comes a journey that is all our own. Our journey may look vaguely similar to that of those around us but could also look vastly different to the journey of others. No one knows what our journey looks like, except perhaps those very close to us, if we’ve allowed them into our inner struggles and thoughts.
Our journey may involve issues from our childhood that still need to be dealt with, or current issues with family, friends and churches that are ongoing. Some have suffered abuse and are still struggling with the aftermath, which can take decades to work through. Some have suffered silently with infertility, which can be a lifelong challenge to overcome. Some are the sandwich generation helping children and perhaps raising grandchildren as well as assisting aging parents.
Some of these issues or things are unseen to our friends and family. Just living life consumes our time. Being involved in our church congregation or our denomination also consumes our time. Everyone’s threshold of the load they can bear is different, and that load changes as we experience the different phases of life.
Recently, I was at a discussion on a certain social cause. I was surprised to overhear the words “they’re ignorant” in relation to others not embracing this specific cause. I was saddened by these words. It’s a big world, with lots of charity and social justice causes in which to become involved. All of us should realize individuals who are not involved in our specific social justice issue or missional cause may just not have room to add to their personal journey at this time. I admit I had ungracious thoughts when others weren’t as involved as I was in a certain cause a few years back.
Romans 12: 4-6 says: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”
Let’s keep in mind that not everyone will become involved in the same cause that we’ve embraced, and that’s okay. We need to be gracious and hospitable to others whether they are involved in our social justice cause, or have chosen another charity or issue in which to become involved.
We need to show grace if someone’s level of involvement is less than ours. It might be that they are not involved in anything at the moment, and we also have to allow for that because we just don’t know where they are in their personal journey. So let’s encourage each other to find where God wants to use us, and then let’s be gracious as others live out their journey, which will be different than our journey.
Janette Thiessen is Mennonite Church British Columbia’s office administrator.