Christians. I am one, so I feel qualified (if it takes one to know one) to say “Christians are annoying”. Not always, not every one, but there surely are the few who have that way about them.
There are several well-meaning Christian folks in my life who care about me and want to know that things will be okay for me, that the messy and difficult situations I find myself in will resolve in a comfortable way for me, in a “successful” way. I appreciate their care, I really do, yet it gets quite muddied in the process. I also think they want to feel that I’m making good choices, they want to feel confident in my decision-making processes, and perhaps they feel as though they should be involved in helping me make these choices (they often want me to seek their advice).
They are the Christians who can rattle off preachy-style, on and on, about how they and I should trust God, trust God, trust God, even when we can’t see the road ahead…just gotta trust God. To some degree, I find that all well and dandy – we are called to trust God whatever the situation, period. So…yes.
But it all goes sour for me when their concerns that my situations work out “successfully” or rather “comfortably” for me, or that my decision making processes should involve their approval are expressed through either disapproval of my ideas/plans or through repeated worried questioning.
It kinda goes like this, with “Concerned Christian Friend” who knows me very well and also, if he/she has been listening over the last year, should know significant details of my life and challenges (so none of this news should be so surprising):
Concerned Christian Friend: What’s with all these doctors appointments? You keep going to doctors and they haven’t told you what is wrong yet? Why can’t they give you an answer? Do you think it’s good for you to keep going to all these doctors, to keep having tests, and to not get treatment that’s helpful?
Me: (Thinking: Where do I start? That was several questions all wrapped up into one…!) It seems that my health conditions are quite complicated and some diseases I have are rare, and some of them require a diagnosis of exclusion, which means we have to test for nearly everything else before the doctor can say that I have diagnosis X, so it does take considerable amounts of time and testing to figure out what I’ve got. I have specialists and then I have special-specialists; I’ve got a whole lot of body systems that are out of line, and for each one I tend to need at least one specialist, if not several. I wouldn’t be going to doctors if I didn’t need to. I think we’ve made considerable progress in some areas in the last few years through my attention to my medical needs and seeing these doctors. They aren’t perfect; they are trying to help, but sometimes they just can’t do any more for me.
Concerned Christian Friend: I just don’t understand why they cannot help you then. You keep going to doctors and you seem to keep getting worse.
Me: Because this stuff is all tied together; one health problem impacts another. Just a year ago we didn’t know I had CRPS/RSD. It took months to get a diagnosis. Then it took months to blow through a few different treatment options and find out that those don’t work for me because I’ve had CRPS/RSD too long for those treatments to be effective or because they are contraindicated. So now the last option is SCS and LDN. The doctors aren’t God (though some think they are). We made progress with my GI tract in the last 2 years…HUGE progress…don’t forget that! I can actually eat food now without crying! I can use the bathroom without crying or throwing up! I’m a lot less anxious than I was several years ago, much less depressed, and I’m not hallucinating normally. We’ve made incredible progress in some areas…it’s just that new areas, or old areas that have become worse, are cropping up as quickly as it seems we can put out the original fires, and there are times I do get sicker, followed by times when things work out a little better for a while….it’s a somewhat cyclical process. I have no good answers.
Concerned Christian Friend: But what are you going to do if you can’t work? Do you have any plans? How will you pay your rent? Surely you can’t quit work without knowing how you’re going to provide for yourself. I am just concerned about you, I don’t know where this is going for you.
Me: I don’t know either. I don’t want to quit or lose my job; I love my job. But I don’t really have a plan yet. I cannot plan for every contingency. God will provide my needs, and it may look very different than how He has provided in the past. I DON’T KNOW what it will look like. I will work if I can work, but I also recognize I’ve currently hit the ceiling of my physical limitations unless God either heals me physically or gives me some extra grace and strength to keep working at my job despite the pain.
Concerned Christian Friend: Will you be able to find another job? Have you been looking? It doesn’t seem responsible not to have a plan.
Me: I don’t know that I will be able to work or find another job in the near future if I must stop working my current job. If I had answers, I’d tell you I knew and that I had a plan. I’m not God, and God hasn’t yet shown me exactly how all this is going to work out. I DON’T KNOW. I just have to trust His provision because He’s ultimately the one who does provide for me; I can do nothing apart from Him.
So here we are, and I’ve stated a number of times that I’m trying to apply what my Concerned Christian Friends have preached – that I need to trust God even when I cannot see the road ahead. Therefore it strikes me as ironic and a few shades hypocritical that my friends keep asking incessant questions about what’s going to happen and seem to expect me to have a perfectly formed plan and answer. Am I supposed to trust God in a practical way only when *I* have a plan? Or to trust Him when I have a sense that others approve of my decisions? Or to trust Him when it looks like the stars will align and life is going to become easier for me, more comfortable, more “successful” somehow?
These friends just don’t seem comfortable with my “I DON’T KNOW” answer, even though it’s the best one I can give. I’m trusting God, so why do these Concerned Christians fret and drive me batty with their worrisome questions?
In the end, some of the particular people I have in mind very definitely could help me in practical ways – financially, giving of time, providing support and some positive feedback rather than primarily stating their concerns and rehashing the obvious (that I’m sick, may be losing my job, won’t have money to pay for X Y and Z, and that I keep going to doctors and getting minimal help for all the effort expended…which are things I already am acutely aware of each and every day). While having ample means to help, they ignore their abundant ability to help by being the hands and feet of Jesus in this world and instead usually just say “We pray for you every day, yes we say beautiful prayers for you that God will heal you and help you and provide for you…” They go on about how their prayers are consistent and fully formed, how their prayers are examples of their love for me.
And as they speak this way, I can’t help but hear in my mind James 2:14-17 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Thus it is that, while I’d love to have closer relationships with these people in particular, given that some of them I have relational reason to be especially close, I find myself further distraught, distracted, frustrated, annoyed, and anything but encouraged after spending time conversing with them. I might more naturally seek their advice if the strings of judgement weren’t attached (their ‘necessary’ approval of my ideas/plans), and their trust-preaching was being displayed either in their own lives or in the conversations were were having regarding my life.
In the meantime, I continue to give such relationships some airtime (like laundry drying on the line), feeling grateful for their care and trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater nor to unnecessarily open my mouth to say something rash and spark a flame that burns down a bridge. I’ve worked too hard to keep the bridges maintained.
Annoying Christians give me another chance to be all the more grateful for non-annoying Christians who understand that God may not show me my whole future in His crystal ball this week. I have many more friends who fit into the later category rather than the former.
Annoying Christians also remind me that I’ve been seriously and even PAINFULLY annoying to others at times as well. My weaknesses can draw others down when I’m not filling my heart with the Word and seeing life from an eternal perspective. I believe that learning what NOT to do can be even more helpful than learning what TO DO, so here’s hoping I can be less of an annoying Christian in the future!