Just a warning, these devotionals are going to start out looking like a feel-good story (possibly one you’ve heard before). Then stuff is going to get real. Buckle the seatbelt!
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Perhaps I’ve told this story before, but a few years back Brittany and I were invited on a vacation that some of our friends were taking. Our friends rented a rather large beach house and invited a variety of family and friends to join them. Brittany and I knew some of the people who would be on the trip but others were, at the time, strangers to us. This means that in the first few days there were a variety of introductory type conversations where people try to figure out who you are and what you are all about. “Where are you from? What do you do?” That kind of thing.
I don’t typically enjoy these types of conversations. To be honest, I don’t enjoy telling people I’m a pastor. I know that I’m supposed to be proud and unashamed of my faith and all that. And, while I’m legitimately unashamed of my faith, I am, at times, ashamed of the harm that Christian communities cause. I regularly notice this harm on people’s faces when I say, “I’m a pastor.” As often as not, I watch my conversation partner retreat within themselves.
This hurts on a few levels. It hurts me to know how deeply many have been wounded by the very thing that gives me my sense of joy and life: faith. It also hurts to feel like I’m being rejected before I’ve been given a chance to demonstrate what kind of person I am. It hurts to know that dialogue, in many cases, is not possible because the wounds are so deep.
Believe it or not, I love to have the opportunity to listen to those who have been wounded by faith and the church. I love it simply because those who have been hurt need to feel heard, respected, and appreciated. If I can play that role, I consider it a privilege.
On this trip, I was fortunate to have that very opportunity.