There are basically two ways to kill a plant.
One is to whack it. Fundamentally, whacking is intentionally (even unintentionally) doing something TO a plant. Whacking comes in various forms. I have been known to be a little careless with the string trimmer or even the lawn mower. Even more scary to my wife is when she sees me walking out of the garage with my hand shears, hedge clippers and tree saw in hand. She knows that, unless she monitors me, some poor plants and bushes are potentially going to be brutalized. They might even run the risk of dying. Case in point, I just had to take out two oak trees in our front yard – that involved chain saws!
The other way to kill a plant is to ignore it. This is pretty straightforward. Plants die when you withhold what they need to survive or flourish. For example, it is amazing to me how quickly a plant will go limp and wilt when you neglect to water it (which some of them seem to demand on a daily basis. Argh!)
People are not really that much different from plants.
There are basically two ways to emotionally or spiritually “kill” a person.
One is to whack her. Human whacking comes in many forms, ranging from screaming in a person’s face in uncontrolled rage to actually hitting her or molesting her. No matter whether it is a few “big” things or an endless repetition of “little” things, the bad things we do to each other result in walking death – physically alive, but dead or dying inside.
The other way to kill a person is to ignore him. In this case things can look pretty good from the outside because there is no yelling or hitting; but it is just as devastating. When affection, attention, physical touch, communication or emotional connection (the critical things we need to grow and flourish) is withheld, a person will become a walking dead person just as tragically as if they had been beaten.
You think I’m being melodramatic? Then you should have spent the last two weeks with me in ministry sessions. But please don’t let yourself say, “Yes, those people are really messed up.” If we really thought about how we treated each other, even the last two weeks, we might be surprised to discover that “they” are us.