It was when I was very sick last year from surgical complications...
And someone did one of the nicest things for me...and also one of the most hurtful.
This was at the point of hospitalization #3, I think (there was more after), and the doctors were shaking their heads--uh, not a good sign.
Frankly, I didn't know anymore whether I was going to make it.
At that time, someone close reached out to me and my wife and said they were going to hold a prayer vigil for me in their home one evening to try and help.
They did and even sent me photographs of the wonderful people taking the time to ask G-d to save me...I was deeply moved and grateful.
But subsequently on a phone call with the person who set this up, they said to me seemingly with resentment at having to have done it and undoing all the good they had done...
"You know you really need to get some zechusim of your own!"
Zuchusim means qualities or deeds that merit some reward or good.
In other words, I was getting judged and scolded and was being told that I was in pain, suffering, and sick because basically I MUST be an aweful person who deserves it.
And if not for her organizing the prayer group and those others with zuchusim that attended, I on my own probably did not even deserve to live.
Gee, thanks for the slap, slap, and slap.
While I am sure her words were intended to help me by exhorting ultimate life betterment, at the time and even now, the roughness and shrill of them hurt--it's nothing less than a matter of soul!
While I am no saint--and I think few of us can claim that title no matter how hard we may put ourselves on that lofty pedestal--I know that in my own way--maybe not the most traditional way that other religious people can fully relate to--I try my best to serve G-d, be a decent human being, and a good influence...while not perfect by any sense of the word.
Laying sick and vulnerable, I needed to be told that I was okay and everything would be okay with G-d's blessing--that whatever the suffering and whatever the reason, my life has good in it and meaning to it--even while we can all better ourselves.
But while I felt the kiss from this person when they organized the beautiful prayer group for me, I soon felt the sting of the slap from the strict harsh "religious" judgement from someone that didn't even really know my days in and outs.
While I know I can do better--and I am committed to continue to try to learn and grow as a person--and serve G-d and help others--but for crying out loud have some compassion, go easy on the severity of the judgement and exhortations, and maybe give some benefit of the doubt.
Words have meaning even though deeds surpass words, and we should be careful with both. ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos posting of Batmancomic.infogenerator)