Leave the Door Open – A Look at Approaching the Worldly View From a Christian Standard
By Lynn Klammer
“Can you help me?” came the plea from the other side of the table. I was sitting in a college study area waiting for my kids to get out of class. As often happens when I’m just “hanging out,” students talk to me. I think it must be my “mom” appearance that leads them to trust me, but over the past couple years I’ve been asked to sew a ripped sleeve, bandage a cut, watch backpacks and even had kids lie down next to me to take naps.
I appear to be a magnet for students in need of mothering, and this day was no different. “What’s up?” I responded to the petite blond across from me. Her name was Jenny, and she was struggling with some academic issues. I helped as best I could, and the conversation slowly turned toward her personal life. Long story short, Jenny and her boyfriend had figured out that by moving in together and having a baby, they could both go to school for free (through government funding) and do far better financially than if they were married and working. She had been happy with the arrangement until her boyfriend began pressuring her to have another child (to bring in more money). She said her mother “would have a fit” – she explained her mom already took care of Jenny’s baby and didn’t want to care for another child.
As I reflect on my conversation with Jenny, so many others come to mind as well:
- John, who was working his way through college and augmented his income by shoplifting. He said it wasn’t “stealing,” because he wasn’t using the money for drugs – but rather to pay for college supplies.
- Becky, explaining her need for an abortion because this was her second unplanned pregnancy and she didn’t want another child. When I asked her about adoption as an alternative, she said it would bother her to know that someone else was raising her baby.
- Shaun, who proudly bragged to me about how he lied on his financial aid form to obtain a grant. When I reminded him about the line he had to sign affirming that his statements were true, and asked if that bothered him at all, he said it was okay because he needed the money.
Situations like these frustrate me. All of these students seemed like intelligent and “nice” young people – but somewhere along the road of life they had chosen to make decisions not based on right or wrong, but rather upon what was best for them at the moment. Living in a society that increasingly seems to support (and even encourage) decisions counter to our Biblical principles, seemed to only compound these students’ problems. As Shaun explained to me, “If you don’t learn to work the system, you’ll only miss out. Everyone else is doing it too.” How does a Christian relate to people holding these kinds of attitudes? What is one to do in the face of such obstacles? When my discussion with Becky turned toward her spiritual views, I asked her how she felt God entered into her decision. She replied, “God will understand what I’m doing being right for me. He loves me and wants what’s best for me.”
We are told to hate the sin but love the sinner, and I often repeat that to myself when I’m in these situations. I know my own list of sins is certainly long enough that I have no cause to judge others, so I try my best to leave the door open, show the compassion and patience I know God would want me to show, and hope that my kindness and gentle direction will help people to see things more clearly.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my frustrations. For those who sometimes struggle as I do, I urge you to remember that we’re not striving for the worldly view of success but rather God’s view. The Christian way may never fit into society’s notions of what rational choices are, and we may even seem foolish by the standards of those who are influenced by the worldly view. However, by holding fast to God’s view we can be secure in the knowledge that we’re firm in His service, even if we sometimes make mistakes. All I could do for Jenny, John, Becky and Shaun was lend them a sympathetic ear and gently urge them to reevaluate their view of the “right” path. Far more than rejection or condemnation would accomplish, demonstrating God’s love through my kindness toward them opened their minds to what I was saying, and will hopefully encourage them to re-think their choices.
Lynn Klammer is a licensed clinical psychologist, educator, author, and mother of four from Frankenmuth, Michigan.
May 4, 2018
August 31, 2017