What Do You Do With Strays?

dog-504343__180[1]A Delicate Subject

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. This is a subject that is weighing heavy on my heart.  A delicate subject among Christians but not exclusive to us. A stray is a person who is socially “unacceptable.” Even that definition is a little strong. It’s the person who doesn’t bathe, has no filter, no sense of personal space, may have emotional or physical issues, and makes you uncomfortable. These people can be children or adults. No matter where you go, you see them. They are the loners that are trying desperately to fit in, the ones who when they find someone who is kind to them, they lash themselves to that person because no one else pays attention to them. When they enter a room, they make a beeline to that person and monopolize him or her while everyone else drifts away due to the discomfort of the situation. Their story is often heartbreaking, and, sometimes, these people can be kind of scary.

My daughters are stray magnets because they are too kind to set boundaries. At times I feel this situation is my fault. I didn’t instill in them the ability to discern who the strays are before it is too late. And no—I’m not saying that they shouldn’t associate with strays. I’m saying that I wish I had taught them how to interact with these co-dependent people without allowing them to take over their lives. That is a difficult ability to master.

Who Are Strays?

Strays can vary from children who need mentoring to down-right stalkers. I have to say that sometimes it is very difficult to discern which is which. And what Christians quite often fail to acknowledge is the fact that even strays are created and loved by God, and directed into our lives for a reason. Jesus did not turn anyone away. I suppose you could call Jesus the ultimate stray magnet. He drew the down-and-outers, the homeless, the sick, the blind, the demon possessed, and the socially unacceptable people—prostitutes, thieves, murderers, politicians. There is no record in scripture where He turned anyone away. I think it was probably more difficult for the cool people to hang with Jesus (of course “cool” being a relative term). Perhaps His open door policy intimidated them. Maybe it was because He accepted everyone, even those others considered to be “icky” people.

How Do We Deal With Strays? 

How do we deal with strays? We treat them with compassion and dignity, and we show them the love of Jesus—not an easy thing to do when that person smells bad or has physical, emotional, or mental issues. I’m preaching to myself, gals, because it has occurred to me that I am considering only how strays make me feel.  I don’t even stop to consider that strays have feelings of their own. Because I am thinking only of myself, my behavior toward strays might be considered aloof or even hurtful.  These are people around us that make us very uncomfortable, and yet all they want is to be loved by someone, to be accepted by someone.  Sometimes, I think it must sadden God to see how we hurt His children.

There must be some way we can show God’s love to challenging people in our lives. One way is to recognize the varying degrees of “stray-ness” in a person and to pray that God will give us wisdom about how to deal with that person. It is always good to have a buddy system—to have someone present who won’t bail on you when a stray enters the room. The more people who minister to this person, the less likely he or she will be to latch on to any one person. It is also helpful to have a good group of friends who will run interference and I do mean “group.” Remember we’re all commanded to love one another, so we are all in this ministry together.

Women, if your stray is male, then you must be very careful and possibly involve your spouse, male friends, etc. Also, you need to be ready to help anyone else who has a stray clinging to her.

I think it’s a “God-thing” that our church is going through the book of James right now. James is a wonderfully tough book that steps all over my toes on this subject.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2: 1-4 (NIV)

The whole chapter is really applicable in this situation. If you get a chance, pull it out and read it.

The main thing to remember is that regardless of who people are, God loves them. Their eternal souls are going to one of two destinations. Think about it. They need God just as much as you did. Someone took time to share God’s glorious gift with you. Is this loner, this stray any less of a person than you are—than I am? No! They have as much need as you or I do for God’s grace and forgiveness! God, please give me the courage to share your love, to share your compassion to the strays of this world.

In the meantime, God bless and keep you all!

By bloggingrobin

I'm a published writer and blogger, married to my pastor husband for many years. We have two beautiful daughters and are living in the beautiful state of Florida for nearly twenty years, and, although it is home, I miss Tennessee!

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