I am a walking story–
A collection of memories and
Reflections on experience
Stored loosely in neurons and
Running through neural pathways:
A worldview at once shaped,
Shaping, and being shaped.
Monthly Archives: March 2018
I am a walking story–
I finally figured something out that’s been bugging me for years…
A week ago I said something stupid to one of my closest friends. It was hurtful and thoughtless. We both thought about it for a couple of days and then sat down and worked it out. I owned my responsibility for what I said and asked for his forgiveness. And he gave it. I confessed what I had done, said I would be more careful in the future, and we moved on. We resolved the offense. There is peace between us again.
Identifying as a Christian and understanding that identification as a commitment to peacemaking means confronting the evils that we do to each other and working to resolve them. “Forgiveness” is not “pretending” that someone didn’t do something hurtful when they did. In fact, it requires acknowledging it in order to release them from the burden of repayment. The peace of Christ requires us to recognize the evils and seek restorative justice. Restorative justice isn’t justice at all unless there is an effort to recognize what is wrong and seek to make it right.
The hardest part about identifying as a Christian and trying to have relationships with others who do, as well, is that most people who also identify as Christian simply don’t understand this. In fact, I’d say most don’t realize that their Christianity isn’t supposed to look like the power structures of the world. This is the reason that it hurts so much to have Christian friends who show honor to people who have treated me or someone I love like complete crap.
They’re convinced that we’re “unforgiving” because we think that making peace means making real peace and not ignoring the fact that people do evil and claim to do it in God’s name. Ignoring it or pretending it’s not evil isn’t peace: it’s enabling abuse.
Several weeks ago a friend of mine made a FB comment about someone who had done just such crap-treatment to me. He said, “So-and-so is just a great guy, reasonable and good-hearted. I think highly of him.” (I’m paraphrasing some.) My experience with him had been very different. So, I commented, “I don’t.” My comment was instantly deleted by the owner of the convo, as he had every right to do. But he never asked me why I said it or felt that way. It was clear that the only reason I might say something like that is that I’m a jerk, or unforgiving. I’ve been called that a lot.
I can tell you, it is excruciatingly painful to watch people continue on in relationships with people who crucified you or someone you loved as if it never happened. Watching people who love us go on with the people who treated my wife like something they stepped in as if nothing ever happened hurts in a way I simply can’t express.
I think it’s also one reason we’ve had such a hard time imagining a church to go to.
I’ve been called “harsh” a lot. I’m “too confrontational.” I need to have fewer “expectations” that people will do what is right. I need to pretend they aren’t hurting people so that they can go on hurting people as comfortably as possible.
I’ve been told that I just can’t handle being “disagreed with” (a comment I’ve heard a thousand times and will adamantly deny it until I die). I’ve been told that I’m “looking for the perfect church” because I’m “judgmental.” I’m not. I’m looking for the church. I have only found snippets of it so far.