I have a “to do” list that is filled with all sorts of things, as I am sure you do, too. And the truth is, no matter how many closets, cabinets, drawers, and sheds that I organize and clean — and no matter how many protests I attend or phone calls I make to be part of the sacred resistance … the knot that I have in my stomach is still going to be there. What knot? The one that has been growing in my stomach for the past several months, or if I really wanted to be honest with myself, it has been there for a very long time.
That knot came to a full on tug of war and twist in my gut a few Sundays ago when I heard these verses from Matthew:
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much a angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”
I have not been able to put these verses to rest in my brain and in my heart…and yes, even in that big ol’ knot in my stomach. I still make my offering to God, yes. For me, that is the easy part. There is no confrontation there and it is so important so that the work of God continues … and I know that it is the “other” words of God in those verses that I want to avoid like the plague.
Over the past several months, there are relationships within my life, where I have been instantly, without word, completely cut off. Much has been over the election and differing core values. And honestly? It hurts.
I have tried the suggested thought processes and approaches such as “Their loss” “Move on” “They will never change” “What do you really want from the relationship?” “They are the ones with the problem.” And those are easier said than done. For some people, they can do that. I always think they are more developed than I am that they can feel this way and just move on (Do they really?) Me? It digs away deeply and I just do not know what to do about it.
What do you do when you are the one that has been cut off? Do you leave your offering and go work it out? Do you wait for them to read the same verse and come to you? According to the translation above and other translations, words like “abandon” “leave” “go” “go first” “first go away” “go restore” “go your way” are pretty direct. There is no “think and pray on it and wait for an answer from the Lord”. And there certainly isn’t any translation that says, “Get over it. Move on. Their loss”…. at least, not in this matter. This is very specific about brothers and sisters, or in the newer translation, even states “friend.”
So, this must be my “to do” list for this season. And although some of those relationships are very far away, I must leave my gift at the altar and put the matter to rest … or at least … finally, put it in motion.
Sometimes, the sacred resistance of evil comes from right within our home or our own blood. But how do I wrestle with the word “resist” and “go restore”? There is so much work to do in our land on a large scale. And first, I think the healing needs to begin in our own family structure and friendships. How do we work to heal our land when we leave our own personal relationships in disarray? There is first on my to do this. Now to get moving on it.
Today’s Daily Lenten Meditation is written by Jenny Tisi, the Director of our Children and Youth Choirs. Watch for daily postings from All Saints Church as we take the forty day journey to Easter together.