Lately I’ve been reflecting on the balance between truth and grace. I err on the side of truth, passion, and justice, and am constant need of growth in the area of grace. When something becomes a justice issue for me (anytime a person or group of people or creation is treated as “less than”), I can get pretty fiery. If we’ve ever had a conversation for more than 5 minutes, you may have borne witness to this occurrence. I don’t like it when people treat other people as less than human, less than equal, less than…
When I hear people say, “oh you can’t do that because you’re a woman” or tell the LGBTQ community, “it’s not important that you get to marry the person you love,” I get angry. I want to break through those people’s layers and say, “hey, wake up! you’re causing undue pain and suffering to your fellow human beings. it’s not ok to treat people this way”.
Part of my desire to have others change instantly is so we can move towards peace, wholeness, and justice in this broken world. But another part of me wants people to change because I’ve been there. I used to believe that women were created to be “helpers” and had a very specific, “less than” role to play in the world. I used to think that being gay was wrong, sinful, and “unbiblical”. I had conversations with people that were less than helpful and caused my share of pain and suffering in their lives.
Sometimes when I look back, I want to shake myself and say “hey, wake up! i wish you knew what I know now. i wish you wouldn’t say those things. you’re causing undue pain and suffering. you’re playing a part in the injustice and oppression that you don’t even know about yet”.
I was talking to my pastor yesterday, and she told me that if I hadn’t gone through my particular journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I didn’t change instantly. I didn’t suddenly become aware of how my words and actions where participating in injustice. It took years of conversations and prayer and study and being in relationship with people. It took diving into the mess of others’ stories, and seeing first hand the effects of oppression. Even though I want to go back and change how I acted, I have to have grace for myself, for my process. A process that is still continuing, because I’m sure 10 years from now I’m going to look back and wish I had done something different (probably that I would have had more grace!).
So, as much as I want people to change instantly, I can’t force them to. But I can be a truth teller, a justice seeker, and a fiery woman seasoned with grace. Grace for myself, the ways that I messed up and participated in injustice, and grace for those that I love (or sometimes struggle to love) who are in their own process.