Monday, July 30, 2012

My Resignation

At the risk of inciting controversy, I just want to say this aloud:

I'm resigning from culture wars.

I want to put more focus on how well I love than how right I am.

I'm sorry to the point of tears that Christianity too often looks at a person and sees a race, a political affiliation, a sexual orientation, a socioeconomic status, an addiction, a psychological profile, or a convict rather than a person.

I'm sorry that we scorn.

I'm sorry that we feel cleaner and more justified in comparison.

I'm sorry we don't see a person like ourselves: a person with a story. A person who has hurt and been hurt. A person who laughs and cries and bleeds the same color as the rest of us.

I say this, not to be more politically correct or to be more approachable or just a nicer person, but because the minute I take up a picket sign or suddenly loudly support fast food to try to score one in the culture war... I place myself in opposition to people I am called to love. In that position, I appear as though I care more about being right and trying to make everyone else act right than I do about actual people. I'm pretty uncomfortable with that.

Because I have no stones to throw.

When Jesus stands in the center of our circle of opposition and yelling and says that lust makes me just as culpable as immorality and hatred equal to a murderer, all he leaves me is the sound of stones plopping in clouds of dust from my hands to the dirt and a confession:

"Me too."


"So, then, the gist of the Gospel is this:

No man is so high or may rise so high
that he need not fear becoming the lowliest.

Conversely, no one has fallen, or may fall,
so deeply as to preclude all hope of becoming the highest.

By saying: 'The first shall be last'
Christ takes all presumption away from you and forbids you
to exalt yourself above any prostitute,
even though you were Abraham, David, Peter, or Paul.

By saying: 'The last shall be first' He guards you
against all despair and forbids you to cast yourself
under the feet of any saint, even though
you were Pilate, Herod, Sodom and Gomorrah."

-Martin Luther

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dirty Hands

The news this morning was a fist in the gut. I stared aghast at the screen, my mind doing those little spasms of unreality. The amount of suffering contained in just one of many news reports just blew right past my level of comprehension.

The families of the victims, and all who knew them. The survivors. The family of the shooter. So much trauma that will take a lifetime of years to heal. The shooter himself. What broke him to this point of insane hopelessness? No healthy person wakes up one morning and decides to plot a massacre.

I wonder if God ever regrets His vulnerable, loving choice to entrust us with free will? Most of the time, I understand His wanting friends and co-collaborators instead of puppets. But when human will goes rabid and we hate and destroy each other, I can't help but wonder if I'd rather live under a dictator than a Father.

I confess, sometimes I am angry at Him. As if this messy, hurting world is His doing instead of ours. But it is our doing, Lord have mercy.

And even the space of one day is crammed with breath-taking proof of this consoling truth:

God has not abandoned us in the mess we've made. His presence is still here. With us. On this planet. Walking the streets and fields of our neighborhoods. His hands are still at work.

While I was still wondering why God lets us choose to hurt each other, I was telling one of my teens how proud I was of her. Her determination to inflict as much pain as she has received is gone. She stands proudly, bright face and clear eyes. Her pride in her new determination to make choices that respect both herself and the people around her is vibrant and evident. 

During a training session on mental health diagnoses, one of my favorite co-workers told his story of grief, loss, and teen years in lock-up. He's overcome behavior disorders, dyslexia, and lack of parental support to become one of the kindest, safest people I know. 

A phone call from a friend left me in awe and worship. Prayers for change and wholeness in the lives of people I love are years in the answering, but here they are. 

Maybe I can't understand why God doesn't intercept human will when it wreaks swathes of horror, but I know this: He is still at work, calling us into relationship with Himself and with each other. Relationships that shape our wills into our greatest empowerment for wholeness. 

There aren't quick fixes and easy answers for suffering. There simply are not. But there is a God of patience, dirty hands, re-shaped lives, and a sort of wholeness that is a beautiful offering to others. 

God is still at work. And we get to choose to help Him.