Public Praise, Private News

I’ve just heard an advert from Sainsbury's supermarket chain thanking all its staff and colleagues for working so 'hard to feed the nation'. This was odd, I thought. What’s the chance of their staff all listening to Classic FM to receive their bosses’ gratitude? Isn’t there some internal email system by which management can communicate to staff? These people paid a lot of money for that advertising slot; they knew what they were doing. It wasn’t for their staff’s benefit at all, or not in the main. It was so middle-class listeners would be so impressed by the firm’s regard for its employees that they would do their next big shop there.

I have friends on Facebook who, on their wedding anniversary, type syrupy messages to each other along the lines of:

I want to thank you for being the best husband in the world, you’re always there for me, I love you so much xxxx

And I want to thank you, my darling wife, for putting up with me and being the light of my world, I xcould not live without you, you are so special…etc

If you need to go and vomit down the loo, go now, and read the rest when you’re back.

The first time this happened, I wrote a reply, suggesting that if they were so close, they could try speaking to each other, or sending themselves private messages if this wasn’t possible. The comment was ignored, for the messages were not really meant for each other. It was so all their friends and colleagues could behold how happily married they were. Like being a lady, I suspect that if you have to tell people you’re happily married, you probably aren’t.

Or how about one from prayer meetings. There’s a balance between inexplicably praying for a matter about which no-one else but the speaker knows and giving us the subject’s life story. Praying for ‘Tracey and her issue‘ is a mystery to everyone else; it’s hard to say “Amen” to some prayer we cannot understand. On the other hand, others have compensated for this by essentially switching their audience from God to the others assembled:

“I thank you Lord today that I saw Tracey as I was waiting for the Number 24 bus into Clitheroe. She had on that blue frock she wore for Thelma’s wedding. As she sat behind me and started telling me about her husband’s in-growing toe nail by the Chatburn Stop, she also said that her mum and dad are no longer together and that…’

I’ve known prayer meetings descend to gossip shops, conferences for the spreading of other people’s news. Just as Sainsbury’s Plc would do well to thank its staff away from Classic FM, and my two starry-eyes friends might learn to talk more, so we might find the balance between explaining a prayer request and becoming someone’s unofficial biographer.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay