Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The One With the Useless Phrases

I have a friend who sort of collects useless phrases. The cliché kind that people slap onto your troubles like a band-aid that is not nearly big enough. “It’s water under the bridge.” “It’s all good.” “Everything will work out.” And my personal favorite: “Let me know if you need anything.”

We had a discussion about that particular one in my primary class on Sunday. {Primary is Mormon speak for the program for 3-12-year-old children on Sundays.} Two of the teachers were sick on Sunday, and so I had extra kids. About twelve in all. I asked the kids if they thought it was a nice thing to tell someone, “Let me know if you need anything.” The answer was about evenly split between those who thought it was a kind gesture, and those who didn’t. Then I asked how many of them would ever call up the person who said it, and tell them what they need. This one was unanimous: none.

Ten-year-old Devoree said that a couple of Christmases ago, her dad was unexpectedly ill and in the hospital. Christmas was only a couple of days away and their house had been dark and deserted all week as they spent all of their spare time at the hospital. She relates that they arrived home that night to find that their house had lights on. They walked in to find a decorated tree with presents under it, beautiful Christmas music playing, the kitchen counters stacked with cookies and other treats, and a delicious dinner on the stove. Her eyes were huge as she told us the story. “We didn’t know what was going on!” she said with a huge smile. “But one thing is for sure… nobody said to my mom, ‘let me know if there is anything I can do for you.’ Because my mom would never have told them.”

Suddenly the room everyone’s hands were in the air and they were all talking at once. Everyone had a story about how they were able to provide service, or they had been the recipient of someone else’s kindness.

And there was just one more question. “Do you think that with regards to serving others, Jesus ever told anyone, “Let me know if you need anything?” We went with a “no” on that one.

P.S. Due to the rather large amount of controversial comments this post generated, I have made this post comment-free to avoid WWIII. :) Sorry if I have offended anyone...