A project in which I have been very involved has not worked out and could be wound up in the next couple of months. Its failure brings a great deal of disappointment; I had made a heart and soul commitment to its work and had a great deal of hope in its success.
It was with a heavy heart that I ‘phoned another person involved to say that I thought we would have to call it a day.
“Don’t take it personally”, the person said.
But of course I take it personally. When something to which we have a deep personal commitment fails, of course we take it personally. I have never met anyone who has been committed to any enterprise who has not felt personal hurt when things haven’t worked out. If someone has been running a business, or a voluntary group, or a charity project and things have gone wrong, then there is always a sense of hurt and even failure.
Isn’t being a Christian about taking things personally? “Weep with those who weep”, says Saint Paul writing to the Christians at Rome, “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). Paul would have found odd the idea that a Christian should not take successes and failures in a personal way, how can we share weeping and rejoicing if we don’t share in the feelings of those involved?
The Christmas story was about God taking things personally, about God identifying with our hurts and our failures in the deepest way. Jesus takes personally the whole of human experience, not even shying away from desolation and despair.
Don’t take it personally?
Isn’t that like asking that one should give up being a Christian?