Many years ago, when my father was in the hospital, he was tended to by a wonderful nurse.  She was so good that I wrote a letter of appreciation to the director of nursing.  I let the director know that this nurse took care of him so warmly, even going so far as to clip his nails for him.  Well, apparently, nurses are not allowed to clip patients’ nails because they may inadvertently cut the patient with the clippers, which could lead to litigation.  From that point on, she no longer interacted with any of us, even as we tried to wave hello to her. She’d been reprimanded and re-assigned.

I felt terrible, but knew I had to leave it alone. There was no way to fix it and all I could do was walk away.

In the news today, it seems that Kathie Lee Gifford was planning to take out a full-page ad in support of Matt Lauer, whose reputation took a hit when Ann Curry was re-assigned.  This ad was signed by every Today show employee… except for Ann Curry, of course.

After Lauer said he wouldn’t feel comfortable with the ad running in the paper, Gifford abided by his wish not to run it; instead, she went on entertainment news shows and recounted her own largess. I can’t help but think she missed his point on purpose for a little bit of time in the spotlight.  She’d probably say she was just trying to help.

In the same way, sometimes it’s hard for us as people of faith to think that our best intentions are unwelcome.  And that sometimes, the most gracious thing we can do is just walk away. It happens to everyone, even politicians and billionaires, as this article shows.

Once, when a neighbor was sick, I wanted to post a prayer request on a faith website.  Luckily, I ran it by a relative of his first, and he recoiled visibly.  “Oh, no, no, no.  He would never want that.” Good thing I asked. You can’t force someone to accept a prayer as a good thing if they see it as a bad thing.  I ditched my plan and re-assigned myself to other, more productive tasks.

Sometimes, our good intentions just don’t pan out, and we have no choice but to walk away. We can still pray silently for people, but if our best effort results in something negative, it’s best to re-assign yourself. Plow your own field and let God plant seeds in your neighbor’s yard. Or, more simply put, let go and let God.

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