Monday, September 12, 2011
I say "gift", because it's not always a present one would pay to have!
I do realise just how Christian you have to be when you have to be a Christian professionally. People know who you are; you can't get past that, nor should you, but there are days when it would be nice just to be able to be grumpy without worrying about it.
Now that I can be grumpy occasionally without worrying about it, I worry about it.
I mean - was the only reason I tried to live like I meant it because I had to? Because people would see me fail, name me a hypocrite and utter those infamous words, "Call yourself a Christian"? Clearly not. Yet such motivation was an encouragement, I'll admit it, to a better standard than my lazy self might otherwise have managed.
There was one occasion when someone at St Caths was cross with me, and for whatever (probably excellent) reason had built up a series of things to throw in my face. The one that hurt was when I was accused of speaking very dismissively to another of our members on a couple of occasions; it was a real "Thou hypocrite" swipe. And it was perfectly fair, which made it all the worse.
But I mean, who's perfect, hey?
However; I had spoken badly to this other church member, and now it was being thrown back at me, and I had no answer. So I went quiet; and afterwards went to see the person in question. To apologise. Not because anyone would know, not because I had to look good, but because a million times I say faith is about loving God, and from that place it is then about loving those around us. And if I say those words a million times, they actually catch my heart too. Here I had failed; there's only one thing you can do when you fail - well I guess there's two: you can bluff it out. But instead, I took the better path; I went to apologise.
And that saint of God graciously received my apology but then turned the whole situation it on its head by talking of how much the Lord had blessed him through me, time & time again. He never felt an unkind word from me because he had received so many words of blessing.
If ever I received a gift from anyone it was that day. Feeling miserable, and made so by the (perfectly fair) accusations of a friend, my tears of sorrow became tears of gratitude as I was lifted up and turned around by the saint at my side to whom I had gone simply to make an apology.
Who's perfect? The one who is forgiven. The one who is so forgiven they may forgive others, freely. And receive more forgiveness themselves.
So I tell you what, here's the gift of these days: no professional pretence.
I need to stop worrying about motivation and spiritual laziness, about appearance and perception and not offending any who watch & judge. I will be me, and you should be you. Do you know what - there will be awkward moments. Imperfections. Rough edges. We are but people. O yes, we are gloriously human. And in that glory we will have the gift of being able to give and receive forgiveness, free from false expectations, sometimes chased by worries it is true, yet filled with hope.