I have a confession.
I really do care.
For years, literally for years, I would use the phase “I don’t care,” as a response to almost any situation. I would say it ALL the time. I was especially guilty as a business manager. It was meant to be a harmless, encouraging response, and a talisman of hope. A sort of look at me and how far I have come kind of response. Look at me, I am unflappable. I am a pillar of managerial strength. The star on top of the “I am not rattled by what happens to me in life” tree.
Frankly, I believe I have lied to myself and to others for decades. Yes decades. I look back at my life in business, and personal events, Church, and marriage, and relationship failures–both mine and of those around me, and anything that could be on any list of anything. The I don’t care list of events. I am not certain of the genesis of this phrase, but looking back it may well have been when I left the ministry and a beloved circle of friends in 1980, to do whatever it was I did.
If there was a change in a business meeting. “I don’t care”
If someone was late for a luncheon. “I don’t care”
If I had to work long hours. “I don’t care”
If my Sunday School classroom was not set up for my session. “I don’t care.”
If you were unable to repay me a debt owed on time. “I don’t care”
If a customer wanted to return an item purchased from my business. “I don’t care”
If someone lost a loved one. “I don’t”….. WAIT, wait just a minute. What the hell have I been saying?
And the “I don’t care” seed was planted. Decades of planting. I CARELESSLY spread the seeds of “I don’t care.” It is a phrase I used with an attitude of being patient and thoughtful. It was instead, a doomsday phrase to so many who heard me say it. Though I can’t confirm this to be so, I surmise that I became the “I don’t care” guy. Don’t ask Bob for help, he doesn’t care. Don’t bother Bob, he doesn’t care. Don’t approach Bob, because he just doesn’t care. I am certain the I don’t care phrase poisoned more than one relationship.
I don’t care was not unlike a two year old child’s auto-response “NO”
Do you want to have lunch? NO
Do you want to lie down? NO
Do you want to visit Bobby? NO
Do you want ice cream? NO….. whoa what did I just say?
“I don’t care” became a canned, reactive, thoughtless and selfish response. And as the fruit of this seed grew and multiplied, I became an uglier person to be around.
The reality is I care about almost everything. And particularly when it involves pain and loss and suffering and need of both friends and the newly met. But how do I express that reality with the “I don’t care” phrase. I will give you the shirt off of my back (well not literally, because you could go blind with that visual memory imprint), but there is little I have not given up to help someone in need. Caring really is a part of who I am and want to be. But unless you really know me, you won’t really know me.
This is borne of my understanding of where I stand and live in creation. And suddenly (like after 25 years suddenly) I have a renewed vision of sovereignty and my Creator. Nurtured by an old friend from 30 years ago who has returned to my life to offer help and hold me to accountability. I remember that I care. It is Godly wisdom I do believe.
And so the reality of my new life language is this. The seed I intend to plant from this moment forward. If there appears to be a roadblock in my life, I choose to say “I don’t mind” Because I care very much.
How can I help? Do you care?
I don’t mind if you don’t.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
May you and I be surrounded by people who care. I choose to be one who cares.
I throw this seed to soil.