|Vol. 15 No. 7 July 2013||
Samuel Feldman is the world’s most famous bread vandal. He did $8,000 worth of damage to bread and cookies throughout the Yardley, Pennsylvania area. He was going around “squeezing, smashing, and poking” bags of bread and packages of cookies. Finally, one store, suspecting Feldman, put him under surveillance and caught him in the act three times. He is charged with one count of criminal mischief. Three years of aggravation and loss were caused by an idle person with a mean streak.
There is a bread squeezer in any group. The church even sometimes harbors a few bread squeezers. These are those sore tails and nitpickers, the storm clouds who live to rain on others’ parades, those who seem to enjoy causing friction and irritating others, those who hold petty grudges, and general pot-stirrers. They are the busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13). Solomon described one as a worthless and wicked person who “soweth discord” (Proverbs 6:14, 19). Paul lamented lovers of controversy because they provoke “envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds” (1 Timothy 6:4-5).
Bread squeezers flatten a congregation’s morale, squeeze the worst side out of others, and pick and poke at everyone from the church’s leaders to any other Christian whose name comes into their crosshairs. They taint the productivity, good will, good deeds, attitude and joy of a congregation. They brighten entire rooms just by making an exit.
Are you a bread squeezer? How well do you speak of other Christians? Are you moody? Do you lash out at others when you feel you have been wronged? Do you give the cold shoulder? Do you not speak to others, only to complain that others are unfriendly? Do you wear your feelings on your sleeve? Are you the type that prefers the role of critic, since there are plenty of others to be the “cheerleader”? Then, you are a bread squeezer!
A bread squeezer is as needed in a congregation as Feldman was needed in Yardley! He was entirely destructive, and he caused others to pay for his bad habit. Barnabas was not a bread squeezer (Acts 4:36). Neither were Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32). Certainly, Jesus was not! The church is always in need of more encouraging, uplifting, positive, happy and contented members. Do not squeeze the bread!
“Grief is like being in a deep dark pit with no way out,” the couple from a grief support class wrote. In asking my class participants to write down in their own words the meaning of grief, the couple added, “Grief is a feeling of being under a dark veil that you cannot lift. There is a feeling that there is something heavy across your heart and a tight band that is around your head. Grief is total despair. Grief is a feeling of helplessness that seems unbearable.”
The above-mentioned definition is a heart-felt meaning of what happens when grief invades a person’s or a family’s life. Grief, from the Latin word, gravis, means “heavy.” Indeed, if there has ever been an understatement for a word, that has to be one! Grief is one of the most debilitating expressions of emotion that a person or family can ever imagine. Grief is an all-encompassing emotion that can cause families to feel as if all of the problems of the world have suddenly been placed upon their backs and on their hearts!
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines grief as a “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” In my twenty plus years of working with people that have dealt with the loss of something or someone precious to them, I have found grief to be an individual experience, generally a painful feeling of sadness that usually follows an actual loss or precedes an anticipated loss. For families affected by grief, their worldview can become quite complex and complicated as they deal with losses in their lives that will affect every relationship possible.
Grief is not something that a family can take care of like going to a doctor’s appointment to be examined, getting your medicine and in five days one is over this ailment called grief! Grief does not work that way; rather, grief will invade every corner of minds, bodies and lives in every way imaginable. One wakes up facing grief in the morning and one goes to bed at night (maybe sleeplessly) with grief staring from the darkness.
What can families do when they are in their crucible of grief? I offer these suggestions for now:
What can church leaders and others do to help families in grief?