I have a confession, paper towel is my nose’s nemesis. That’s right, I hate paper towel, especially at this time of year when the seasons change.
You know that feeling. Your sinus cold is chugging forward on full steam. You nose is running faster than Usain Bolt. Your raw skin is redder than Santa’s cheeks. Then that dastardly event hits. It can strike anywhere - while you’re riding in a car, in a meeting at work, or in the hallway at school. You kindly ask for that precious commodity of facial tissue hoping for one of those name brands like Kleenex with aloe, when someone hands you the dreaded brown paper towel of death. They may be trying to help, but you resent them as you have no choice but to rip your face off with this rough substitute for soothing nasal salvation.
You may laugh at my hyperbole, but I think it’s similar to what is happening in our communities today. The world around us is suffering, and I’m not just talking about literal paper towels applied to runny noses. Some people are being battered and beaten by falsehoods, fake news, and self-serving ideologies that plague our culture, while others are simply indulging in selfish behavior, unaware of the consequences. Some neighbors are red and raw from the daily grind of balancing work, family, study, health, and spirituality to find themselves caught up in worldly escapes. Like the rough paper towel, Harvard Medical School offers this list of unhealthy coping mechanisms that people turn to instead of what brings real healing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/watch-out-for-unhealthy-responses-to-stress
Let’s be honest, families have been under an enormous amount of stress this year. From financial worry, to depressive isolation, to pandemic fear, families have been struggling. People are ill and need healing relief. But there are two things that suffering families don’t need during this time.
(1) They don’t need the cultural substitutes such as overeating, binge-watching TV, or drunkenness.
(2) The second thing they don’t need is being berated by someone that seemingly has it all together. For those who are trying to help, remember that this isn’t the time for handing them rough paper towels of self-righteous judgment, condescension, and verbal combativeness that I’ve witnessed and been tempted to dole out myself.
No, families need true healing, a peace that I’ve experienced that only comes from a trip to the “Good Doctor.”
Jesus came to offer healing from mistakes and the physical maladies He touched on earth. “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 9:35) Not only did he go to people, but they also flocked to Him. “And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” (John 6:2) While you and I certainly aren’t Jesus, we do have a purpose in His healing process. We are to be the Kleenex that helps wipe up the mess that has been made and brings gentle relief to those who are sore and ill from this world’s sin-sickness.
Paul directs Titus, “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Titus 3:2) Paul goes further to say, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) The words gentleness and courtesy stand out to me as we do a little self-evaluation.From your face-to-face interactions with struggling families to your Facebook reactions with souls who are ill from this world’s sin-sickness, are you the Kleenex with aloe or that resented and rough brown paper towel? Look at yourself and grade which type of facial wipe you represent. Then choose to bring soothing relief today as you bring people nearer the Healer. May God make you great through His gentleness.
If your family is struggling, please reach out to any of God’s faithful and healing churches around you. I know our church is ready and willing to help, desiring to be the Kleenex rather than the paper towel. God loves you and so do we.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10