There is a word I delight in from the Word of God and often cringe at from the lips of mortals. From the Lord it expresses the wonderful, amazing graciousness of God toward us. From us it connotes contrariness and cancelling. Too often it demonstrates that we are not actively listening to understand. We are ‘listening’ to respond. We are seeking to ‘win’ rather than discuss. I am trying to excise this word from my spoken vocabulary.
What is this word? It is “but”! God demonstrates his love with the many buts that intersperse the Good News. We were dead in our sin and trespasses … but God! The wages of sin is death … but the free gift of God is life! You see we are undeserving, we do not and cannot earn this grace, but God opts for us anyhow! I sometimes jokingly tell my Street Hope friends that we are in real trouble until God sticks his big but in! I love the many buts that God expresses. His use of the word is truly divine and brings life!
We on the other hand ought to be careful to use the word sparingly. It may have a place in conversation but (see the irony here) not the place we too often give it. For us it often begins a response to someone’s expressed thoughts. We have decided that our friend is wrong, or at least not entirely right and we front-load our rebuttal (doubling down on irony) with a word meant to negate what has just been expressed. With this three-letter word we dismiss not just the idea we might disagree with, but we dismiss the person expressing the idea. “But” does not engage and leaves our friend feeling unheard.
Rather than “but” we might rather say “I am not so sure.” Or “ I think I disagree” both of these acknowledge and engage while defending our own position. Or we might say “I see what you mean, and I think…”
When only seconds after expressing a heart felt thought I hear someone say “but” I feel my heart sink. While I hope I am open to correction or direction I also value feeling heard by people.
I have decided to leave this word to the Lord and concentrate on positive engaging conversation. “But” is an expression that can keep us polarized when honest listening dialogue is much more apt to draw us together.
On another note, things seem to be moving after a long covid hibernation. This week I took delivery of the showers for our Threshold House project and the contractor has begun the work of installation. Our prayers for a ‘nighttime pastor’ look like they are being answered. We are currently praying for daytime employment for our candidate as the last obstacle to his coming on staff. Financially we are headed into challenging times until we get up and running and we are trusting God.
I led my first, in person ‘mask-less’ Bible Study this week as I filled in for our pastor while he is on holiday. It was an enjoyable experience. We are also enjoying the freedom of singing without masks. I did not realise how much I missed that!
We are waiting to see how the new “Green” phase in New Brunswick goes before we consider restarting our Drop In. We would value prayers for this decision making. We do not want to disappoint people by starting something only to close again.
Grace to you all.