And of course I'm no exception.
|On Being with Krista Tippett 8/5/2013|
The bottom line is that I did something I should not have done. I stepped on someone else's toes, offended their authority and professionalism, and infringed upon their domain. I am clearly in the wrong.
And having been called on the carpet for my doing so, I feel like dirt.
Having apologized, acknowledged to the other my breach of trust and professionalism, having vowed to never cross this line again, and having asked for forgiveness, the relationship is nonetheless scarred. There remains a cold wall between us despite the chitchat and information exchanges between us. That cold wall is the remnant of a broken relationship; a scar in the skin of the body of Christ. It can be mended, but requires tender care. It is able to be healed, but will take time.
That cold wall could easily turn into a grudge or a root of bitterness that grows inside and between us. It would be so easy -- and familiar -- to carry anger, hurt, betrayal, and cold stares into the the future of the relationship. This is the way of the culture around us. This is one of the sources of our radically divided society, the divisions in our political and social strati, the fights in our communities of faith. Our inability to humble ourselves, admit wrong doing, being hurt, betrayed, struggling -- our inability or unwillingness to set aside hubris -- will build cold walls, dangerous divisions, and cankerous wounds. These will become grudges and bitterness that will ultimately divide the Body of Christ.
Only forgiveness will keep that from happening. Forgiveness is the mending that needs to happen. Forgiveness is not forgetting or pretending nothing happened. Forgiveness is understanding the harm, understanding the wrongness of the wrong-doer, and agreeing between you to try again. To forget anything happened will cause the wound to fester and infect the whole Body. To not change the status of the relationship would be further denial; if I did not feel like dirt, there could be no hope for forgiveness! Entering into the path of forgiveness is digging through that dirt, wearing it on my penitent forehead, and sorting through all the implications and wariness of the new situation, the new relationship.
So we have a choice. We can nurse the pain; we can respond to the continued pain, pulling out swords and spears to slash and stab back. We can hold a grudge and remain cut off. Or, we can sincerely, deeply from our hearts choose participate in forgiveness. I can turn my sword and spear into repentant love that, in its own way, has a much better chance of piercing the other's heart, of reaching them. There is no guarantee, however, that the other will put away their sword and spear. There is no assurance that the other will be changed moved to forgiveness. But it will change me. It will keep a root of bitterness from growing inside me, replacing it with love.
Forgiveness is not easy. In order to turn spears into to pruning hooks or swords into plowshares, the blacksmith must pound upon red hot iron; sparks fly in his face and all around him. It is grueling labor. It is uncomfortably hot. Peacemaking is difficult and dangerous work. It is not possible for us to beat our own swords into plows, to bend our own words and actions and attitudes into means of forgiveness, peace and love on our own. We need the strength, skill, and extravagant love of a master blacksmith. God has provided us One!
Even if forgiveness is offered and received, the cold wall will remain until enough time and space passes for the healing to happen. Healing is the slow rebuilding of trust, of care, of mutual respect, of honor for the other. These are relationship essentials that may have been offered freely once but now must be earned. Only time and consistent care can heal.
We all make mistakes. We all do stupid things. We all need forgiveness. In this season of Advent, let's journey toward making peace, shalom, happen first within and among us.