I Just Wanted to Be Sure of You

The picture on the left of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet walking, with Piglet seeking to be sure Pooh is really there, really connected to him, is classic A.A. Milne.

But also it conveys a profound truth about us . . . we need reassurance that our loved ones really love us, are really there for us, and even that others around us–coworkers, more casual friends, neighbors–can be counted on when they are needed.

It is why Cocoa, our almost 3-year-old standard poodle who weighs 65 pounds, sometimes–with no reason that I can see–climbs up in my lap and makes himself comfortable. He like Piglet, I think, just wants “to be sure” of me.

This need  is denied in much of what passes for public debate about our nation. I don’t mean just that much of it seems uncivil and undignified–should candidates for the highest office in our country spend lots to time demeaning each other?–but also that so much of it seems to ignore our common destiny.

And at church it is easy for people to express sharp criticism of others and to engage in judgmentalism–casting aside the fundamental truth that we have been called together by God for God’s purposes, not just our own self-gratification.

As a pastor, I see many people come and go from church. Sometimes, I know why they leave or don’t show up anymore . . . moving, changed work schedule . . . but so often they fail to say anything, at least to me. And those that do so often seem to leave over things that might be worked out if they stuck around. The ones that cause me lots of pain are those who have been coming for a long time who just stop.

I fear it may be in too many cases that they are not sure of us, sure of me, sure of others. Or that they are so sure they know us and they don’t like what they see.

I don’t pretend to know how to deal with all this–each situation is different, of course–except to reach out as best I can and offer warmth and care and an opportunity for people to share what is on their hearts. And to encourage others to do that as well.

I remain hopeful that all of us will be as open and vulnerable as Piglet, and as caring as Pooh (we can hold each other’s paws).

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