First Posted 19-Jul-2014
Yeah, I know. It works better if we who have done something can still be painted as unrepentant. It helps the victim thing. We are not static. Most of us who have a past that is apology worthy are not only the things for which we have regret. We are that, that which causes us to have to answer for our past behavior. We are more, though. We also have gifts. It’s easy to get stuck on battling against that which we do not want and forget to forge ahead in the endeavor to give life to what we want.
This can be hard to hear for those we injured. There is a tomorrow for perpetrator and victim alike. The fight to a draw with what we fear is seductive. It can consume us. Locking ourselves to the moments when we sinned traps us in slavery to the pain of those moments. Part of gaining freedom is to forgive, sure. Another part is finding a new life with the fading reflection of what we did that causes regret.
This is not for those who are still unrepentant. There are folk who remain a problem until they become a regrettable corpse to be cremated with tax dollars and buried in a public graveyard. I can’t do anything with those folk. Hopefully, their ugly behavior will come to the attention of law enforcement and they’ll suffer appropriate consequences.
This is for those who have repented and are trying to live in the aftermath. So, what to do? Stay locked on to the acts that give us a reason to repent? Focus our energies on therapy and medication to cure someone from a diagnosis based on those regrettable moments? At least for me, it became a self-perpetuating tornado of weird that kept alive the very thing that needed to die and be healed so that I could live today and into forever tomorrow. Instead, confess, repent, and in this step, start figuring out gifts that will support a vision and mission for the rest of your life. And, yes, giving your life to Christ can be part of this.
I’m going to catch flack from some folk for this paragraph. For them, the first, and most crucial step, is confessing faith in Christ. They take it on faith that just that alone is enough. It isn’t. It is important and I do believe that for me, without Christ, things would not be going so well. I know too many, some of them confessed Christians, who still sin (Pastor Weenie!), who still act out, though they grew up in the church, know the right thing to do, and have answered the altar call more than once. The fulfillment of a confession of faith comes in the days following as we live out our professed surrender to Christ.
I’ve also met folk who, fresh out of prison or jail, know what they don’t want. They have no vision, mission or sense of their gifts. They are very clear on what they don’t want. This is a problem. Left alone, with only a fear of unwanted consequences, their risk of recidivism is high. They need a mission, something to live for. And sorry, just saying that he or she is living for Cheeeezus isn’t enough. St. Paul said those that don’t work won’t eat. We need to find work for ourselves. I’ve said enough about my major malfunctions. Now the hard part, to assess my gifts and publish a mission & vision for myself. Through therapy and the narrative I tell about my family, I’ve become very good at moaning about my sins. I’m not as good at celebrating my gifts. This will be hard. It is needed, though. Just sweating to prevent that which I do not want is not enough. There has to be something I want that gives purpose to my life. As I discover it I’ll post it here. Stay tuned.