What if Jesus had said no?

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand from Matthew Chapter 14
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children (New International Version)

What if Jesus had listened to his disciples and sent the people back to their own lands so that they could buy food? What if Jesus had chosen not to have compassion on the people who’d gathered around him? What if Jesus had looked at the provisions which he and his disciples had and said, “we don’t even have enough to feed our own people. Send them away.” What if Jesus had said, “Well, I feel compassion for them, but there might be some people in this crowd who are just freeloaders and want to get something for nothing, so we’d better not give any of them food, just in case.” He could have easily said any of these things and no one would have blamed him. But, he didn’t say any of those things. Instead, Jesus said to his disciples, “They do not need to go jesus feeding 5000away. You give them something to eat.”

…YOU DO IT…

Now, one of the most fascinating things about this passage from Matthew is not in the passage itself, but in what precedes it. This event, this mass feeding, took place just after Jesus found out that King Herod had ordered John the Baptist beheaded as a gift to his wife. John’s head was brought to the queen on a platter and displayed for all of the guests to see. This surely would be considered an act of terrorism! No doubt the king’s guests felt terrorized and would think twice before crossing the royal couple–I know I would!

That’s what Matthew is referring to when, at the beginning of this passage, he wrote, “When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place.” Jesus most certainly would’ve been moved by this news. John, after all, was the man who baptized Jesus. What if some of those people in the crowd that day had come from the same place as the guards who captured and killed John? What if they had been or were servants in Herod’s household? Wouldn’t the safer thing be to turn them away from Jesus? Because, well, they just weren’t vetted enough to be sure.

What is happening to us? Why are we losing compassion for people who are truly hurting? Why must the little bit of compassion we do still have be tempered by fear? I don’t have answers to these questions, but my recent and ongoing struggle with anxiety has opened my eyes to a terrible truth: people just don’t care much about people anymore.

Christians are called to. . .

. . .heal the sick
. . .feed the hungry
. . .clothe the naked
. . .shelter the homeless
. . .mend the broken
. . .visit the imprisoned
. . .share Jesus

But, we’re not really doing much of any of that anymore. Modern Christians seem to have changed the rules. The calling now is to. . .

. . .fire the sick from their jobs so that they lose their health insurance
. . .blame the hungry for their hunger and deny them any assistance
jesus american flag. . .shame the naked for not having nice clothes and refuse to hire them because of it
. . .arrest the homeless for seeking shelter in a public place and close homeless shelters because they are ugly and “dangerous”
. . .ignore the broken because they should grow up and get over it
. . .build more prisons because there are a lot more people who should be there
. . .share Jesus but only after we wrap him in an American flag and only with people who are like us

I can say these things because I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus and I rely on him. So, don’t go calling me an atheist or anything. I’m certainly not that. I just happen to think that we are getting it all wrong when it comes to the way we are treating people. Christian compassion means that we see people the way Jesus sees people–desperately in need. That’s the way he saw you. That’s the way he saw me.

I am having a hard time rationalizing a way around this. You see, I’m all about safety and security. I’m all about personal responsibility. I’m all about making sure that resources are being used efficiently and effectively. But, Jesus kinda didn’t think about those things. Jesus just saw a bunch of hungry people and said “go feed them.” Hehungry didn’t ask where they were from. He didn’t ask who they were. He didn’t ask if they were sick or if they would be able to work for the food they were being given.

He just gave them some food.

I wonder how things would be. I wonder how people would be if maybe we stopped asking so many questions and just provided them with what they needed–food, clothes, a place to stay, medicine, a friend. I think most people are decent people, and given the chance…given just A CHANCE in life…will respond by taking the gift of compassion and giving it right back again.

Call me a dreamer. Call me a bleeding heart. Call me a fool. Maybe I am all of those things, but I’d rather be known as a fool who had compassion than a genius who turned people away.

Just get up and do something (Quote of the Day – April 14)

Dale Carnegie doubt and fear quote

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit and home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~Dale Carnegie

Pardon my language, but sometimes anxiety can be a real bitch!

There’s nothing I want to do more than to get up, get out, get busy, and get things done. I cannot stand sitting still. I cannot bear the thought that something needs to be done that isn’t being done.

Despite my deepest desires, though, my mind is at war with itself right now. Inside my head is a running dialog telling me simultaneously that I am able to do anything I want to do, and that I cannot do anything. The result…

paralysis

But I can’t give in. I can’t sit still, because when I sit still I think about it and when I think about it all I want to do is sit still.

I guess most people can relate to this on some level. One doesn’t need to suffer from anxiety disorder to understand the nature of fear and doubt. Our challenge then, as human beings, is to not allow ourselves to be paralyzed with fear and doubt. Our challenge is, as I’ve said many times before, keep moving forward. Look fear in the face and move on. Let doubt have its say and move on. But, whatever we do, we must move on. We must do something!

Laugh it up (Quote of the Day – April 15)

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis. ~Jack Handey

Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis. ~Jack Handey

God, we’re all so SERIOUS these days! Why?

I think a big part of the reason our world is so messed up is because we’ve lost our ability to laugh at ourselves. We’ve lost the ability to laugh at anything, really. I think that’s regrettable.

Lately I’ve tried to laugh as much as possible. I find that when I get all mired down in my fear and doubt, finding something to laugh about helps. No, it’s not a magic pill or panacea, but it takes my mind off things–at least for a little while.

So, on this most infamous day of the year (you know, tax day), take some time to look for something to laugh about. And, just in case you can’t find anything, watch this short video below. Like Jack Handey back in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s funny because it pokes fun at God’s most laughable creation. . .

us!

Can you help?

This post is a bit different. I need your help.

I’m hoping to find work which I can do remotely/online. I am, as you know of course, a blogger and writer. I have A LOT of social media experiences. I’ve had training in and am very good with professional/business communication. I am also a certified and “highly qualified” teacher in the State of Texas.

If you know of anything, or know of anyone who might be able to help, please contact me via email — jason@jasonawalker.com. Also, if you would, please share this post.

Thank you!

But it’s one absence I wouldn’t regret (Quote of the Day – April 13)

Nelson Mandela fear quote

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ~Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a man who knew a thing or two about fear and bravery to be sure. Sometimes when I think about people like him, who suffered so much in his lifetime, I get mad at myself for my own fears. But, then I realize that fear is something which cannot be compared from one person to the next. While mine might not be as impactful as his, they are just as real to me.

I’m going through a rough time right now. My anxiety attacks have come back and they’re loaded for bare this time. They started about mid-February and have only gotten worse. I’ll go into more detail about that in a later post, but suffice it to say that fear has become an intimate companion to me lately, and triumph seems an awful long way off.

I read words like Mandela’s and think, “Why can’t I have that attitude? Why can’t I just find a way to overcome?” The truth is, if there was one way to overcome I’d have done it a long time ago. But, there is not and I doubt there ever will be.

We must each find our own path to peace. Some of us must travel longer roads than others. Some of those roads may be fraught with peril. But, we must keep going because there will always be something to be afraid of in this life. If we let that fear stop us every time it rears up, we will never make it anywhere. No matter how hard it is, we must always keep moving forward.

The Face of Anxiety

Earlier today I ran across this post and this post on Facebook. Two brave people who suffer, as I do, from anxiety disorder shared very different kinds of before and after pictures. These pictures depicted how an anxiety attack does a “makeover” on the body in not-so-good a way.

I’m in a pretty bad place with my anxiety right now. I’ll write more about it tomorrow and tell you all just exactly what’s going on. But, I wanted to share a picture of my own–the face of my anxiety. The “before” picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. The “after” was from earlier today a few minutes after a panic attack had subsided. This particular attack wasn’t all that bad so you can see the kind of toll they take.

I had decided not to post it, but then I reconsidered. I’ve always been real on my blog, and it’s about to get pretty damn real (there’s your fair warning) as my posts turn back to my battle. I’m not doing this for attention or out of some macabre desire for internet fame. I don’t care about any of that. I’m doing it to draw attention to something which is very real, but also very stigmatized. I’m doing it in the hopes that by bringing anxiety disorder, panic disorder, panic attacks…whatever you want to call them…into the light of day, maybe some of the stigma will disappear and a real conversation can take place. I’ll post a lot more about that soon.

But, for now…the face of anxiety…on me.

IMG_1234

Silent cries are often the loudest

I started having panic attacks when I was ten years old. Back then nobody really used that term. Back then I was just a “nervous kid” or I had a “nervous stomach.” Back then, to most of my teachers, I was just a lazy kid who didn’t want to work very hard. There was no such thing as therapy for little kids who got sick every morning just thinking panicabout going to school, or who got sick at school for no apparent reason. Back then I was a hypochondriac. A freak. By high school I had graduated to “pussy” or “tit bag.” Back then I was a lot of things, but deserving of compassion wasn’t on the list.

Not a lot has changed in 35 years. Oh sure, now days when I tell people I suffer from anxiety and depression they know what I’m talking about. Now days when I tell people I have panic attacks they are at least familiar with the terminology. But, other than vocabulary, nothing has really changed. Nobody calls me freak, pussy, or tit bag anymore (at least not to my face). They don’t have to. I can see it in their faces. I can hear it in their voices. Despite their best attempts to hide what I will generously call their ignorance about the reality of my condition, nobody’s poker face is that good.

I’ve said before and will repeat now: if I were to go to the doctor and be diagnosed (God forbid) with cancer, or heart disease, or kidney disease, or any other physical ailment, no one would question me. No one would say, “why can’t you just be happy?” No one would say, “just get over it.” No one would say, “you’re a grown man. Act like it.” No, if I were to be striken with a physical illness I would not hear those things. I would not see the look in people’s eyes wondering why it is that I can’t get out and do things. I would never hear the unmistakable doubt in people’s voices. But, you see, I’m not physically ill–at least not with anything that is causing the hell I’m going through right now.

i'm fine

I had a full physical exam three weeks ago. I had blood work, pressing, poking, listening. . .the whole shebang. Guess what I found out? Other than mildly elevated (and I do mean MILDLY) cholesterol, I’m as healthy as a 43-year-old overweight man with a family history of diabetes and heart disease whose diet is complete crap could possibly be expected to be. Healthier, actually. Even the doctor said he was shocked by my labs. So, that’s great news, right? Right. Maybe. Sort of. A little. Or, not.

Now I’m just stuck knowing that everything I feel–the dizziness, shaking, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, racing thoughts–all of that is just a product of what’s going on in my head. It’s real, only it’s not. How do you explain that to people who don’t experience it, though? How do you describe to someone who’s never felt it the sudden sense of abject TERROR and overwhelming need to flee a grocery store, or church, orrunning away school, or work for no real reason? There’s no way to do it successfully. There’s no way to make people who don’t experience those feelings understand that sometimes, on the really bad days, even walking to the mailbox can be an impossible ordeal.

Because explaining is impossible it’s easier just to stay quiet. It’s easier to stay locked away from the places, situations, and people who trigger the panic. It’s easier to keep it inside and spare people the awkward agony of not knowing what to say or how to react to someone who sometimes has trouble sitting in the drive-thru line of a fast food restaurant long enough to grab a burger for lunch. Yeah, it’s just easier that way.

screamThere are countless thousands of people out there who are just like me. You might even be close to one, two, or ten of them without even knowing it because, like me, they find it easier to exercise their right to remain silent. What you need to understand though is that those silent cries are often the loudest and most tortured. Those silent cries are the cries of people who have given in to fear and given up on hope. Those silent cries are the ones you should listen for the most. Can you hear them? What will you say?

Shhhhh….don’t answer until you’re sure.