BY JAMES DAMAN
Pokémon Go is a mobile app game that was released this past month and has been downloaded millions of times. The game allows players to capture virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as though in the real world. You then train them and bring them into "gym's" to battle on your behalf. I often wish that life worked like the game does, I wish we get to watch something else experience the pain in life on our behalf and I wish we could choose everyone who comes into our life.
Unfortunately in real life, we do not get to pick who comes into our lives and oftentimes those who come into our life are difficult to deal with.
Furthermore, we don't get to pick and choose the battles we face and when we face battles in our lives we have the possibility of getting hurt, while in Pokémon Go our Pokémon are the ones that get hurt.
When we face a difficult person, we don't realize that many of them have been difficult people for so long that it has become an identity for them. Or they identify as an addict, someone who is constantly angry or unhappy, or something else that causes them to manifest as a difficult person.
The only thing I've learned from Pokémon Go is that it is not designed to teach us life lessons, it's just for fun and I do love playing it. But, if I'm seeking those answers from Pokémon Go then it's a good reminder that I certainly don't have all the answers in life. But, it did help remind me of lessons from the bible that playing Pokémon Go sparked in my life:
Everyone is valuable in God's eyes
In Pokémon Go we are constantly seeking those rare and valuable Pokémon, however, we've never met someone who isn't valuable in God's eyes. So whenever you face that difficult person, remember that and treat them as someone who is valuable in God's eyes.
We can't collect them all, but we can love them all
We oftentimes befriend someone because they can give us something, but I challenge you to look at potential friendships from the other side, what can you give others, how can you love them? Loving people is a simple idea, but so profound.
Sometimes people will refuse to take a potion or revive
In the game, if your Pokémon is injured in a fight, you can use a potion or revive to heal them. In real life, sometimes people don't want to be healed or revived. Jesus gave a great example in John 5:1-8, here is the scripture and I've bolded the question he asked:
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate there is a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
What an interesting question that Jesus asked this person. Why did he do this? Well this person had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, his identity was as a beggar and being healed means his life was going to change! Those difficult people also have to face that fact and sometimes they experience the stages of grief over losing that identity and they become difficult or they don't want to change but are being forced to.
The best thing we can do is continue to love them, but we also might want to ask them, do you want to get well? Maybe the person you need to ask is you, is there something you are holding on to? Do you want to get well?
James Daman is the pastor of recovery and discipleship at Focus314, which is a church in one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the United States. He is the Celebrate Recovery Regional Director for the Mountain Region and he has interviewed some of the world's most influential people, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, General Tommy Franks and many others. You can contact James on Twitter at @jdaman04.