Thursday, April 8, 2010

The F-Word

"Let me tell you again why I'm so mad, why I am justified in my anger," I said, straightening my back in that pose that I've perfected over the years of righteous indignation. Then I show Her my scar, the place where my heart fell out of my soul from someone's actions. The space between how I would have done something and how the other person DID do something, and that something almost always leads to hurt, disappointment, anger, even rage if all the pieces fit just right. So I proceed, again, to recount the event, even events, that led to this place. When I pause, She nods, even adds in a, "Yes, that was hurtful." And I continue, until I finish.

And God sits, as She does, silently for a while, letting the steam vaporize off my burning soul. And She says one word.

The F-word.

Not the one that can be oh-so-useful as almost any part of speech. Not that one. Not the one that may have meant, "Wow, doesn't this suck." Nope. She says THE F-word. The one we wish Jesus wouldn't have uttered at all: Forgiveness. The F-word, that which God reminds us is not simply a lofty ideal of Christendom, but a hard reality of love. Which will make the best of us say, "Fuck."

"Forgive, my ass," I say, adjusting my beautiful new silk shirt I bought in a perfect pink shade on sale that falls just so the scars aren't visible to anyone else.

But they are visible to Her. Our scars, the places where we've been cut and left to bleed by other children of God. We all have them. And we've all inflicted them. When we compare scars, we often find that they are very, very similar. Trust betrayed, abandonment, disappointment, loss, exclusion, violence to our body, mind, and soul. Sins, we call them, and sins leave a mark.

God, in Her infinite wisdom, let us in on the healing process of those soul marks. Forgiveness and reconciliation. We like forgiveness as a concept, like fusion Asian-Canadian cuisine or those three-inch red strappy heels or giving up chocolate for Lent. In theory, in our intellectualizing, forgiveness sounds so lovely and warm.

"I'm sorry I hurt you. Forgive me?"

"Sure."

And the strings swell as the movie ends and all is right with the world.

But here in the real world, where to relate is to react, we all muff up the relating part regularly and the reaction to said muff-up is usually not so pretty. We might offer some platitude for apology without digging into the details, and we may forget to ask for forgiveness all together because we're just not sure what the other person will do in his or her pain. Animals in pain lash out, even at those hands trying to help. We humans do, too.

Forgiveness isn't about the right words or the perfect apology (although, let me insert that those things go a LONG way to help). It is about taking off the glasses of hurt and anger and disappointment and all the other scars that tint our viewpoint, our entire relationship with the one who has cut us, and our relationship with ourselves and God.

You know the glasses, the lenses that allow us to see every movement, every word from the other as justifying our anger and continuing permission to nurture our wound. The lenses that often make our scar seem much worse than it is, actually, because we want the other to see the betrayal and brokenness live and in living color. The lenses that cast a shadow over reconciliation, even block it completely. The lenses that stop us from seeing how we may have a role in this mess, too. Maybe. Because most sin is complicit. It takes more than one human to, shall I say, fuck things up.

After some time, after I sit in silence, God takes my hands and speaks. "Girlfriend, those glasses are just ugly. They worked for Buddy Holly, but not for you. Take them off."

"No," I say. "I've worn these glasses for a while. Their weight feels familiar."

Then God holds up the mirror, and I can see what God sees. They are not-so-cute. Angelina Jolie couldn't make these look good. So I take them off.

I do. And for a while, my vision is a bit fuzzy. Reconciliation is a new focus, and it doesn't happen in an instant.

"Can I still hold them, just for a while?" I ask.

"If you want," She says, "But they will get heavier and you might miss holding something fabulous. But it's your choice."

And I decide to hand them to Her. She'll know what to do with them.

18 comments:

Reboloke said...

Wow. Great post and great writing. *adds your blog to my list to check back on* I also love that you use feminine language for God in this post.

Maia said...

I like your post and perspective. You are noe on my RSS :)

Wendy Dackson said...

Wow. I had read this earlier today, and left for what I knew was going to be a hard meeting with it on my mind. The meeting WAS hard--we've had to tell a final-year ministry student that his plagiarism was so egregious we can't allow him to continue training or recommend him for licencing.

We're feeling pretty betrayed and hurt. We know that his fellow students will, too, once they hear (from him, not the faculty).

This helps. Allright if I read it to the class?

preacherlady said...

...and the Ninja of Forgiveness drops down on me from yet another corner, and we go another round...

Curita said...

You have managed to articulate much better than I've been able to do the one metaphor for forgiveness that's really made sense for me: that forgiveness is allowing the offender to be for me more than just his/her/my offense, to be a complete person and not just the person who did wrong. Thank you!

Curita said...

Just have to share that my college students are now quite enamored of the idea of poutine with sushi.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lovely post, Laurie and Mary.

Crystal said...

Very special post on Soul Munchies (www.soulmunchies.com) featuring YOU and this post. Thank you for your words - I love this image.

Elizabeth said...

i found this very helpful.

Bex said...

@churches: Yeesh, you write this in response to a post on forgiveness? Ain't you had any fetchin' up? Get over yourself. And speaking of short rides, the one to self-righteousness takes no time at all.

Cathy said...

@Churches, I don't think the historical God-Man Jesus Christ would have too much time for or patience with the bile you're spouting, frankly.

Cecilia said...

Here's another F-word: Fantastic. Thank you so much. Just beautiful.

And, let's not feed the trolls. It only encourages them.

JCF said...

@cord:

Having a Bad Day, snookums? Did you have Annette Benning in the office Oscar pool? [You're not Sacramento-cum-Anaheim Kings fan are you?] Or did you just get up on the wrong side of the bed?

Take it all to Jesus, darlin'...

Dirty Sexy Ministry said...

Hey all, thanks for the support. Jezebels we aren't. Tamar, Ruth, and Rahab, well, we'll gladly be in their company. I'm impressed someone thinks our little ol' blog is worth sabotaging. Means we've hit a nerve...in a good way.

emb said...

How did I miss this one?! You never fail to make me think. (Ow, my head hurts!)

kenneth michael said...

hate gives us a reason to live for if we didnt hate we wouldnt know what to do with hole in our life . the problem is that the hate creates a whole that we are fearing . by asking and forgiving , we see a new blessing ,those hurt may forgive but not forget and that is all right

emb said...

Read this again after a long day, and some really good discussion time on the way home from a gig. It just hit the spot for me tonight. Sometimes, the hardest thing in the world is to try to forgive someone who has, in your eyes, "done you wrong". But I find that the longer I walk around with all that anger, all that frustration, with those huge glasses in my hand, the more tired and worn out I feel. And the exhaustion becomes physical, not just mental or emotional, and that leads me down the dark road to depression. And that is just not where I want to be, nor does it do me any good. (It's not very fun, either.)

I may not be able to just look my perceived 'enemy' in the eye and forgive them on the spot, but I find that if I take the time to really think about that person's life, where they are, what burdens they are carrying, what glasses they are wearing, it becomes much easier to begin the process. Would that I could just say it, mean it, and move on. But most times I'm just not that strong. And if it's been a very deep cut, or one done to someone I love while I watch helplessly from the sidelines, it takes me even more time to get there. But I can get there, and I know it, especially if I ask for a little help. Perhaps that should be my new favorite song, huh? "I get by with a little help from my Friend." (Hmmm, maybe I'll leave the next line out, though... you think?)

Kim said...

priceless wisdom from God's chosen...thanks for sharing! Keep up the "dirty sexiness"!!