March 4, 2014

Brendan Liturgy Part XIII

“Life in community is not easy. Sharing life with others makes holiness hard to find…Am I surprised by the evil I encounter in me or in others? Help me to live as one glad to die. Teach me to live with eternity in view.” 

I must say, I did not like Part 13 very much. Not because it was inherently un-likeable, but because of what it brought up in me.

For over 10 years (arguably near 20 years) a key focus in my discipleship has been letting go of people’s approval and finding it in God alone. There have been successes and failures all along the way, with the general trend toward success, I think. But I have increasingly wondered if I haven’t over-compensated in some cases; in some areas of relationship.

As I pondered the exercise in Part 13 in which we prayerfully consider who might need our forgiveness, or from whom forgiveness might need to be sought, 3 people almost instantly came to mind. The fascinating part is, in all three cases: I’m not sure whether forgiveness should be offered or sought, or both. In all 3 cases, I can easily call to mind and define with crystal clarity the offense committed by the other. But like a shadow over that clarity, there is a nagging impulse…well, impulse is too aggressive a word.

It’s a prompt. A throat clearing from Heaven. A raised eyebrow, a turn of the head.

“You’re responsible.”

There is a difference between FAULT and responsibility. A tornado tearing the roof off my house is not my fault. But fixing it is my responsibility. Trash tossed into my front yard by ignorant, selfish passersby is not my fault. Cleaning it up is my responsibility.

My friend’s immature response to pressure at work is not my fault. But helping him find a new way to deal with it is my responsibility.

My brother’s blindness to his own hypocrisy and  impulse control is not my fault. But maintaining a posture of openness in the midst of it all is my responsibility.

My sister’s chronic blindness to her hurtful treatment of others is not my fault. Standing besides her, helping her recognize her own pain at the center of it is my responsibility.

I resist these responsibilities because:

– I’m tired. I’m weary. I feel like most days I’ve already given everything I have to people who “deserve” it.

-I want my pound of flesh. I’m often more interested in winning an argument than in restoring community.

-Justice will go unserved. If they never come around, if they’re just loved with no deadlines, no check-points, no criteria…no conditions, then why would they ever change their behavior? How will things ever be made right?

-I will anger my friend(s), start an argument I can’t win, and lose them.

-I will appear to be a fool to almost everyone.

– Perhaps the only legitimate reason: I don’t want to actually BE a fool; making things worse by enabling crappy behaviors.

God, I really need help in figuring out WHAT my responsibilities are. I will acknowledge that they exist…but please define them.

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