Yesterday there was a confluence of several factors and concerns related to a simple and well-known verse from the Gospels. Matthew 7:7 reads as follows: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Now, I would like to state at the outset that this verse has not been universally applicable in my own life, nor likely in the lives of anyone else. That said, it applies, at least in part, to the particularly narrow context that I was dealing with yesterday, and it is that narrow context that I would like to discuss, with the names omitted to protect the innocent and the guilty, as is my customary fashion. No doubt, given the fairly constricted circumstances of my own existence, there are at least a few people here who would be able to read and understand what is being referred to. From such people, I must beg the usual (and usually unheeded) request of respecting the privacy of those involved. This post is intended, as is often the case in my public writings, to be in the nature of analysis rather than personal communication, which I tend to conduct on a much more private level, even if it does not remain so because of the perfidy of the people I have sometimes communicated with.
At services yesterday, there was no sermonette, which is a very unusual occurrence on a Sabbath where there is no prior Bible study. The songleader, in commenting on this, made it appear as if the elder in our congregation who had the sermon had searched far and wide for people to speak and had been unsuccessful in finding someone willing to give an impromptu sermonette. I knew, of course, that I had not been asked, and was a bit piqued to be potentially thought of as someone who would let my fellow congregants down in such a matter. Of course, my competence and experience in giving messages is beyond reasonable dispute . That said, my own ability to serve my brethren locally and in more far-flung areas has often been hindered by the context of my personal life, a subject that has caused me no end in vexation and frustration and distress. Immediately after services ended, I felt it necessary to discuss the matter briefly with the sermon speaker and queried as to how many people had been asked to give the sermonette on somewhat short notice. I was told that there were only a couple of people asked, and not even all of the people on our somewhat short sermonette list. I was then asked if I had discussed the matter of my being on the speaking schedule with our pastor, and I answered that it was among the first orders of business that I wished to discuss promptly with the new pastor who will soon be serving our congregation.
I do not consider myself to be a difficult person to communicate with, although I must candidly admit that communication is an issue that I have struggled with my entire life. I was reminded of this difficulty, if any reminder was necessary, by a lengthy conversation I had. I was also reminded, in listening to and thinking about what others are going through, that this is certainly not a unique struggle to me. In fact, I had to wait during my conversation with our local elder for someone else to discuss the same kind of matter to him, an issue of communication between him and someone else in which the elder’s help in mediation was discussed. This is some of the most difficult work that people can be involved in, trying to mediate conflicts. It is difficult for several reasons, among which are the fact that some people simply do not want to make peace, while others may simply be aware of their own contribution to the problem. We all know easily enough why we are upset about a given situation, but we may not always be understanding of the full nature of what other people are thinking about a given situation. Worse, when those people are unable or unwilling to communicate, it becomes more difficult to resolve issues, because there is a failure to recognize mutual desire for reconciliation as well as mutual respect between the parties, which makes every interaction fraught with difficulty and often dissatisfaction.
Nevertheless, we only have an opportunity to make things better by asking. If it is somewhat irksome to only have people come up to me for conversations when they wish something from me, something I find odd given that I strive very hard to avoid that sort of behavior with others, it is more irksome for people to communicate to others in such a way that would reflect that I was either unfriendly to the communication of others or that I was hard to communicate with. Quite the contrary is true. In fact, I am a somewhat relentless communicator, in that I seek to communicate with politeness and respect (something I do not always feel is returned to me), but that I am persistent in my desire to resolve communications and in to preserving open channels with others if they so wish. In many ways, it is my continued desire to do good towards those I know who dislike me or who have problems with me that makes it harder for them to seem to want to communicate back to me. This is a frustrating outcome–what I want to do is repair and build up social infrastructure, not salt the earth or destroy it beyond all hope of repair. What we wish for in life, sadly, is not always what we find, despite our most strenuous efforts.
 See, for example: