2014-06-18 - Stolen Moments
In honor of the recent passing of the beautiful spirit, Maya Angelou, I wanted to open this with a quote of hers that is my favorite.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
I can think of several personal experiences in which this rings quite true. One in particular recently came to mind.
One afternoon, I went over to visit my Mom. It had not been long since she had been given a terminal ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) diagnosis. She was still able to move about in the house with a walker, and it was springtime, so she would leave the door open on pretty days. The sounds of the birds and the sight of the trees blooming, as well as the smell of flowers, were comforting and distracting to her, under the circumstances. I am not speaking for her, but know how much she loved being outdoors, and at least being able to enjoy the breeze, the sights and sounds must have been helpful. This particular afternoon, that comfort of something not lost changed.
I don't know if you're aware of how life changes when diagnosed, but the world becomes much smaller. Outward focuses on many things get filtered, until there are just a handful of people and things that are part of your time, not knowing how much of it exists. Before this happened, my Mom would have welcomed a surprise visit from a friend, at pretty much any time. But on this particular afternoon, before my arrival, a person that really never was a friend to my Mom showed up unannounced. I am guessing she didn't announce herself, because she would have been asked not to come over. And so, because Mom could not move very well or with any speed, she was forced to have a visit of someone who really was not there to help, or to be uplifting in any way. As Mom put it, "she just wanted to know what dying looks like". As a result, the front door was no longer left open, if there was no one home at the time but Mom. In essence, that person's curiosity caused a door to close - that could have still been left open - to enjoy something still available when the flesh was now badly failing Mom. And the more I thought about it, after learning of it when I arrived, the angrier I became. As if the disease hadn't stolen enough from her and the rest of us, too.
"You shall not steal." (Deuteronomy 5:18); "'Do not steal. "'Do not lie. "'Do not deceive one another." (Leviticus 19:11) "You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?" (Romans 2:21); "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need." (Ephesians 4:28)
I believe that stealing encompasses more than just shoplifting. And I don't think people really consider this to be true. Very often, I believe the bigger spiritual picture of stealing is lost because people are lost. It's the I'm not as bad as a murderer, a drug dealer, an abuser, a bank robber, etc." mentality that can lead people into a false sense of security about their own goodness. We are all lost, and even when found (by repentance), we still remained flawed. So to be aware of our flaws should also include, at some point, deciding to consider others differently so, in fact, we don't push people further from the truth. In order to show true concern for others, it means wanting to put them first and not stealing time from them either. We should never take from anyone. And stealing moments meant to enjoy something loved by anyone, when those moments are truly precious, is included in "thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15 KJV). Even when we don't know how many moments are left, they are all precious. Keep that in mind, if you think about taking some from another with only your own motives in mind.
All scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise noted.