January 7, 2013

The Sacredness of Our Stories...

In her post from earlier today, Rachel Held Evans wrote a couple of passages that got me to thinking along some different lines than her post.  The first, "We have become a Church that judges one another by how we judge one another, and that makes me sad." and the second, "As any mother of a gay child or survivor of sexual abuse will tell you, when we talk about sexuality, we are talking about real people, real bodies, real families, real lives. To forget this is to subject our fellow human beings, created in the image of God, to a sort of theological objectification that robs them of their humanity and renders their stories, their experience, their backgrounds, their spirituality, their relationships, their struggles, and their joys down into something I can either “affirm” or “condemn,” something that is either “pure” or “defiled.”", came from entirely different sections, and seeing the connection between the two isn't quite as obvious when reading her post in its entirety.

Echoing Richard Beck, it's easy to see how both of those sections relate to boundary psychology of inclusion/exclusion, but what if the solution, at least for some of us, might be something very personal, something deep within our own boundary that we're trying to exclude.

It's one thing to agree for purposes of a discussion or debate that we treat the stories and experiences of people who have suffered with sacred respect, and we readily agree to do so, but how did we wind up needing to affirm this fact for purposes of dialogue? Do we really treat our own stories as something sacred, something worthy of being given sacred respect? I know I don't treat mine that way, and I suspect it may be a more common problem than we would like to admit.

As Christians, we treat with the utmost sacred respect the story of a man who was the true embodiment of God on Earth; the story of that man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, the man who laughed and cried with His friends, who showed compassion to those needing help. The man, who through His death, burial, and resurrection, made us holy. We profess as an article of our faith how we are sanctified by Him, yet our inner pains, doubts, and fears keep us from fully accepting our own stories as something that is sacred and holy. If we have been cleansed and made holy, then our stories have, too. Those stories, no matter how painful or sordid, are an integral part of who we are and how we got to where we are now.

Stepping from an intellectual agreement that our stories are sacred to knowing that the stories of others are sacred because we fully believe that about our own stories is a pretty long path to walk.

At least it is for me. I hope it's a shorter journey for you.

"I DESIRE MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE."  That scripture seems to find its way into almost everything in my life with which I struggle.

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