-Rev Melissa Fain-
For the next month or so I'm going to shine the light on myself. I'm doing this because all of us within the church are guilty, and someone has to be the example for others. Part of embracing God's grace, is admitting our fallibleness.
I was at the same camp where my knee and elbow were taken down by a rogue plank. On this particular day, we were sitting in small groups. (Small groups are a time the camp is split into groups of 6-10 to discuss deeper issues.)
It was the running joke between campers that the camp staff were full of thugs. They all had piercings in weird places, visible tattoos, and/or strange hair colors. This was a strange sight for elementary school kids during the early 90's. They all looked like this... all but one. He was one of the quiet camp staffers. His demeanor was mellow. In an unspoken way, my newly broken self connected with this specific staffer. He was also one of my small group leaders.
If I remember correctly, the subject was "forgiveness." I believe the scripture was The Good Samaritan. It was new for me then. (However, my many years as a camper and counselor help me discover The Good Samaritan is a go-to verse to use during most church camp experiences.) We began talking about God's abundant love, and how God gives second chances.
This absolutely wonderful man began to share such a heartbreaking and vulnerable story. He was a drug addict. He hit rock bottom, with absolutely nothing to his name. Then he found God, and it turned his life around. These are the stories that pull at our heart strings, and should cause celebration. How did I react to his heart wrenching words? I made fun of them out loud, in front of everyone.
I knew, immediately after I did it, I had made a poor choice. No one laughed, and the pain was written all over his face.
And older, more mature, more confident me would have apologized on the spot. (Actually, I would have never had to apologize at all, because I never would have opened my mouth.) The little girl who spoke out of turn about such a sensitive issue was scared and broken. The nights of my step-dad threatening my mom's life, drunk and vocally loud were over, but still fresh. I saw someone was upset because of my words. I was so scared of conflict, I shamefully ran from it.
After that summer, I moved to another state. I have not seen that counselor since. I still wish to apologize. When I'm at large DoC gatherings I seek him out. We are a small denomination. It's a vain attempt to give him the apology he deserves.
That's the thing. I know, at this point, saying sorry would do more for my soul than his. I remember that, as his face is not the one I see at assemblies.
The Problem: Would you believe this is the story I recall when I remember that we are all offered God's grace? Would you believe this is the story I recall when someone hurts my soul? Brokenness breaks. That doesn't give me some magical pass. It took me years to get that plank out of my eye to be able to get the splinters out of others. To do that, I had to admit I was broken first. That was the hardest part. I knew my past shaped me. I knew it had made me somehow kinder; gentler. I still had to admit something was not working correctly. It was a heart wrenching moment. With it, comes realization that brokenness acted out inappropriately.
What I learned: True forgiveness is like a precious rose that has but a moment to be given before it begins to wilt.
Advent is closer than you think. We will have a devotionals here in December. If you want your own copy, you can download the PDF or get the Kindle edition. Check this out on our Upcoming Events page.