Just a warning, these devotionals are going to start out looking like a feel-good story. 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.
…story began on Day 3…
I gave Jim the only response I could even think of. He’d experienced something horrific and he held the entire community of faith responsible. I am a part of that community. We could debate whether or not I am truly responsible, but I have the internal sense that the entire faith community is bound together as one entity and that our failings are truly that: our failings. I do not desire to explain them or sugar coat them or defend them. I can merely acknowledge that evil is evil, apologize/repent/lament/show remorse, and continue to live in such a way as to demonstrate that God truly is gracious, loving, and merciful rather than hateful and abusive.
Jim appreciated my response. Nobody had ever suggested (to him) before that the church needed to be willing to take ownership over its failures. As a result, this seemed to increase trust between us. Every night during that vacation we met on the deck and talked about both the good and the bad of the church and held everything together. As Richard Rohr says, everything belongs.
This is why the community of faith has such a complicated relationship with recovery- the church can be a big part of the reason people need to seek out recovery in the first place. We can try to explain that away or defend it or some such thing. In other words, we can practice living in denial and demonstrate that for others. Or, we can model good recovery principles and live in reality and take responsibility over the ways in which we harm each other.
If I do nothing else in life well, I try very hard to live in reality even if that means I have to embrace a difficult or hard truth about myself. This doesn’t mean I’m always quick to recognize these realities- sometimes it takes a while for the truth about yourself to become clear to yourself. But once the truth is there- it’s important not to run away from it.