Things that make you go hmm . . .


Shanell T. SmithChristian Band-Aids

by Shanell T. Smith

“Weeping may endure for a night,
           But joy comes in the morning!”
But I sit here struggling in my angst
           And a new day is a’dawnin’
“Everything happens for a reason.
           It’s all in God’s plan.”
But it’s hard for me to divinize
           suffering. I’m sorry. I just can’t.
“All things work together for good . . . ”
           You know how that is finished.
And instantly whatever I am going through
            is supposed to diminish?
Why? O why dear sisters and brothers,
            do you make remarks like these?
Applying Scripture like a Band-Aid
            with no balm for my dis-ease?
You don’t listen to my pain.
            Make no time to hear my thoughts.
Do not see the tears forming.
            Care no mind that I’m distraught.

At least that’s how it feels
            when you apply a Christian Band-Aid.

 I understand your motives may be good
            Your intentions begin from the heart

The Scripture you quote is “good for my soul”
            I believe that’s where you start.
But can I ask you to back up a bit
            Just take a moment to see
That all I need from you right now
            is to acknowledge my humanity?
I am in pain. I am hurting.
            I have sorrow deep within.
I lack the energy to hope.
            I do not know where to begin.
I just need someone to listen.
            I just need someone who’s there.
Not to fix my situation
            Or to “God-talk me to care.”
But to sit down in my presence.
            To be quiet and let me be.
To let me rant about injustice,
            What’s not fair, or “Lord, why me?”
Without interruption or instruction
            About how Christ paid it all
About how we as Christians suffer
            About how sin came with the Fall
About how God gave up God’s Son
            so that we all might live
About how we as Christians
            are suppose to forgive
About how suffering brings perseverance
            how trouble doesn’t last always
About how God’s timing is not ours
            And how God turns our darkest nights into days!
I know you mean well.
            I know you want to assist.
But this instant application of God’s Word,
            Please resist.
Until you’ve heard my story.
            Until you’ve acknowledged my pain.
Walked a mile in my shoes
            Actually experienced what I’m saying.
Asked me what I need
            Or how you can help me, if you can
And don’t get mad if I tell you to back off.
            “Talk to the hand!”

And then maybe . . . just maybe . . . it won’t feel like you’re applying
            a Christian Band-Aid.

Shanell T. Smith is a teaching elder in the PC(USA) and assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Hartford Seminary.