I don't know if the person involved will ever see this post or not, but without naming names, I want to share a recent event that is ripping me apart inside. I hope it is received in the spirit in which it was intended, but if not, then I ask your forgiveness. But before I share the cry of my heart, please bear with me as I first share a thought from the New Testament that is amazingly relevant to me right now. It is this:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do ... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing ... What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7: 15, 18-19, 24; NIV).While the Apostle Paul wrote those words about himself, sometimes I am convinced that he wrote them on my behalf. They are so word perfect, it is almost as if I had personally dictated them to Paul. Does he know me, or what?!
Ever feel like, when you take a step forward in your spiritual pilgrimage, you soon feel like you've had the legs kicked out from under you and you end up crawling backwards three steps? Why is it that, as Paul says, "the things I want to do, I do not do, whereas the things I do not want to do, these I do?" What's with that?
I will spare you all the gory details, but this week I responded rather harshly in an email to someone. Yes, I still believe that they were in error, and my view of that error has not changed. But that's not the point. Unfortunately, the way I responded was anything but graceful, and that is the point. Unfortunately, the way I responded, it might as well have been the devil himself who sent that email. Afterwards I feel absolutely sick about it. What was I thinking? Apparently I wasn't thinking at all. God forgive me.
Me, who preaches love and relationships, apparently forgot to preach to myself along the way. Me, who has often been critical of what I perceived as lovelessness in others, was equally loveless. Oh, "what a wretched man I am!" Since when did two wrongs ever make a right? Am I beating up myself right now? Yes, I sure am! I don't know, but maybe that's a part of repentance.
Romans 2: 21-24 (NIV) comes to mind:
"You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: 'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'"What is interesting is that I just quoted those same verses a few days ago in of Compromising Our Witness. Apparently I stumbled over my own blog post. Groan. Is God trying to say something to me through this experience? I'm sure that He is, but what is the lesson? Lord, open my eyes.
The first lesson to be learned is that I would probably be wise not to respond too quickly to any email. While he was still quite young, I remember my son once saying, "Words are like toothpaste. Once they're out of the tube, they're impossible to put back in." Out of the mouths of babes! Apparently I forgot that lesson. Likewise, once that email "send" button is clicked, it is impossible to pull the message back. Too late; sucks to be me. The same holds true for any online activity; once the "Post" button is clicked, I hope you know what you're doing, because you're committed.
Think Before you Send. Is it Gracious?
I think I need a reminder like that taped to my computer monitor. Maybe I will make one up today. Certainly it is consistent with where I want to be; I want to always be gracious. Certainly it is consistent with Paul's instructions too when he said,
"Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4: 5-6; NIV).Well, there you have it; I messed up. Why do I tell you of my shortcomings? There are actually two reasons. One, that we may all learn from my failure and hopefully not repeat it, and two, because of something James said,
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).Where do I go from here? I would hope it is to pray one for another a bit more than we typically do. The next order of business on my part is an apology. I hope this person ends up being more graceful to me than I was to them. I hope they see fit to forgive me. God help me.
Peace and Blessings.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Postscript: I shared this with a friend as a prayer request. Her answer back blessed me immeasurably; may it bless you too. (With her permission) here it is:
"Where do I go from here?" Right where you are, my brother. Right where you are, in Christ with us. Will, Look at that? What you ask? Look at that testimony of Love! He only does that with His own, His DNA children, not a servant, not a slave, but His son. Well, no matter how that apology works out on the other end, you can only apologize, and then it up to that person and Father to work in that heart. I'm sorry Will, but you must get new mirror, the one you have is broken. I do not see a wretched man, I see Christ. Yes, a new mirror is definitely called for to see your Reality. It is an honor and great blessing to call you my brother forever.