At the beginning, I set out on a journey to discover peace. Peaceful ways of living, peaceful ways of relating, peaceful ways of being. Peaceful words, peaceful actions. My hope was that I might learn about the peace of God through the happenings of life. My hope was that my brothers and sisters might join me, walk with me, and learn with me. I aspired to explore conflicts and solutions. I hoped to be insightful. And, while I was willing to be provocative, I wanted my words to be edifying, constructive, and helpful.
It was a great undertaking…
…but already I have failed. I have been reckless and careless with my words. I have succumbed to the temptation to be angry, which might not have been so bad except that it was also mean and rude and overly critical. I made assumptions and generalizations. In a rather ugly fashion, I became the person I criticize the most…un thoughtful, ignorant, uncompassionate…and people got hurt.
This is not the way of peace, nor the way of God. I cannot continue writing with unkindness and violence in my heart, bleeding out into my words.
So I apologize to my brothers and sisters, the church men and church ladies who were the targets of my scorn.
I spoke wrongly and I see it.
I humbly beg your forgiveness.
And I repent. (And what does that actually mean? We shall explore that soon.)
In actuality, the people with whom I practice my faith every week are good and kind and it is clear that Jesus dwells among them.
When I first came to them, I came alone, curious, but ambiguous. I visited once, then came again a month later and found that people still remembered my name. I would encounter them on the street and, again, they would remember my name and be happy to see me.
This was a good sign. This is actually what kept me coming back. They won me back to Christ by being my friends.
We see the world differently, them and I, but they are still kind. We hold different values about many things, but they are happy to include me in their group.
We approach life and faith in different ways with different styles, but they have always shown themselves interested in me, eager to listen to my story, my thoughts, and learn about the way I think.
They are diligent in their faith. Faithful to the truth. True in their commitments. Committed to making their world a better place.
I joined their community at a fragile season of life, not convinced that anything was good or true. I’ve occupied(and at times secretly enjoyed) the role of the troubled child from a troubled past now adopted into a more or less healthy family. I don’t know what to do with love and acceptance. And these faithful church people have been very patient, very gracious with me in my growing pains, my questions, my doubts, my wrestlings, and now my meltdowns and angerstorms.
In repenting, and beginning to do good where once I did wrong, my commitment is two fold.
First, I will again commit, in the grace of God, to use my words to build and not to destroy, to be kind and not mean, compassionate in how I speak truth, even if I must be angry.
Second, there will be no specific stories about individual people I know. Not unless an agreement is made. I will learn from my family, but also guard them.
May the Lord’s peace be with them, to bind them to His heart and to each other. He has made them a welcoming community, may He make them ever more a safe one. May they be at peace with each other and with their communities. May the love of God dwell in them and in them become tangible to the world. May others like me find them and be healed amongst them…only may those others be less trouble than I have been.