“But” Disease

As I go about work,
     I continue to cry.
Most people don’t notice,
     for my eyes remain dry.
I weep for what is,
     I weep for what was.
I weep from great heartache,
     and I weep just because.

I suffer in silence,
     for who wants to know.
That the little word “but”
     can cause me such woe.
People say great things
     that should build me up.
And then it is followed
     by that little word “but”.

It causes great conflict
     in the midst of my mind.
On which side of the “but”
     is the truth I can find?
It shouldn’t matter
     just what people say.
So I cry out to God
     throughout my whole day.

“You do a great job,
     all the people do say.”
“But pack up your things,
     today’s your last day.”
“The way that you serve
     is always first-rate.”
“But we’re changing direction
     so we can be great.”

“You did a great job
     raising the funds we did ask.”
“But it wasn’t done our way,
     so you’ve now lost that task.”
“You’re working too hard,
     your hours too long.”
“But you’re overpaid now,
     your wages are wrong.”

“Your preaching is great,
     it sure builds us up.”
And then comes the dread
     of that little word “but”.
Throughout all my life,
     these “buts” follow me.
Sometimes they’re so close,
     they’re all I can see.

© 2105 by Tom Lemler

As I’ve been crying out to God tonight as I clean the building, this poem filled my mind as God began to show me the damage that this one little word does in my life.  When the poem first began in my mind, I wasn’t expecting it to take the turn it did as I had not really thought about why this season of sadness has returned.  I’m not even sure the poem is finished other than the words quit coming.  As I reflect on the words in front of me, I can’t help but think of the words of Jesus as He says to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  My mind is wired in a way that typically causes whatever comes after the “but” to negate everything that came before.  That one little words plants the seeds of doubt in my mind . . . which did they really mean, the first part or the second part?  Because the actions of people have usually corresponded with the second part, I end up convinced that the first part had no meaning and was just being used to try to soften the cold, hard facts of the truth.  I suppose that this poem is the start of realizing that if I don’t find my complete worth and value in Christ and Christ alone then this “‘But’ Disease” is likely to kill me.  I pray that God helps you to understand these words with the context and purpose for which He has given them.  

In prayer,

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