Forcefully Advancing

I’ve been wondering all day about whether or not I’m going to post this.  The reasons I almost didn’t is because I think that it’d be easy to assume I’m either bragging or feeling sorry for myself.

I can’t fully deny the latter charge.  I hope you’ll take my word for it that the former– bragging– truly isn’t what is on my heart.

I am sore.  Beat down physically sore.  My back is stiff and hurting.  Over the last two and a half years of dealing with this messed up back, I’ve developed a calf problem as a result of walking funny.  My calf too is quite painful.  I hurt quite often.  I am really sick of it.

I originally got hurt breaking up a fight in the behaviorally disordered class I taught.  Two kids were going to jump a third.  I don’t actually remember making the decision to get between them.  I remember the stuff before that decision quite vividly.  I remember the time after equally vividly.  But I want to be really clear about the whole not-bragging thing: I don’t deserve any credit because I didn’t make a decision.  And even if I had, I’m not 100% sure it would have been the right decision.

The kids were tough adolescents.  They probably would have been fine if I’d not gotten involved.  But me?  I’ve paid quite a price in a lot of different ways.  I spent three weeks on disabality.  It’s probably not an exageration to say that I haven’t gone a single week, in over two years, without feeling the results of this decision physically.  On a couple occasions I’ve had pretty creepy flashback to the trauma of being in the middle of that fight.    At the end of that school year my contract was not renewed at the school I taught at.  I’d been warned of this by people who knew the system better than me: the school would not want me around, I was a legal liabality.  Family members who were less niave than me encouraged me to get copies of my personal file.  I didn’t do that.

And truthfully, in the time since this injury, I could have (probably should have) sought out more medical help.  I should get rid of my bone headed doctor and find somebody who’s going to work with me.  I should invest time in more physical therapy.  I should get in better shape.   What I’m trying to say is that I’m not just an innocent victim here.  I’ve made mistakes.  And God has taken care of me.  There are so many people who I could have never made it through that time if they hadn’t been around.  God put those people in my life, and he worked through them.

But I’m not the only one who made mistakes and bares some blame in that whole ugly affair.  The guy who was my classroom aide, he behaved thoroughly ineptly at the time.  The administrators behaved imorraly after.  The kids caused the fight.  But I don’t believe that any of those people are baring any of the wieght of this event.  Most probably hardly even remember it.

Me, and my family, we pay the price every day for this event.  There are times when this gets me angry.  There are days that this doesn’t seem fair.  One of the reasons I’m posting about this, though, is to share one of the things that has encouraged me through all this.

At the time when I could barely sit through a church service because I was in so much pain there was a sermon that the pain meds prevented me from really hearing.  But some friends summarized it later.  It was around Mark 11:12 “12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”

Usually, that verse is taken to express how powerful Heaven is, how irresitible God’s work is.  But the people who shared this with me shared the observation from the sermon that this disregards the full context of why Jesus said it.  John the Baptist was improsoned, and presumably discouraged.  Previously he expressed no doubts about Jesus identify.  But his followers go to Jesus, looking for assurance.  The verse above is what Jesus says in an attempt to help John through his trials.

Taken in context, the verse seems to be a warning “It’s not all sweetness and light.  The act of bringing about the kingdom is a violent event.   Sometimes the crap hits the fan.”

These good friends shared that they’d thought of me as they heard this.  Nobody things I’m John the Baptist.  But I was suffering.  And I was trying to do the right thing.  And it didn’t feel very fair.  It still doesn’t.

But I’m trying to keep my chin up.  And realizing that it’s going to get ugly sometimes helps.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “Forcefully Advancing”

  1. i’m sorry you’re in pain.
    Pain sucks.

    Though you didn’t mention it specifically, there was a hint of Providential observance. Noting that ‘crap happens’ is another way of recognizing God’s hand in everything. It’s notable that our frustration and disappointment (lousytshirt) is ultimately foisted on God. This could be the purpose of it.

    i believe your response to the incident in its entirety has honored God. Even the kvetching. Even the parts that may be sinful. That sounds weird, i know, but failures and sins in the end honor God as we come full circle to His throne. Were it not for our sin we wouldn’t need Christ. So while we are guilty, we don’t have to be burdened by the additional weight of feeling guilty.

    Count it all joy!


  2. thanks for your post to my blog on abiding. I traced your entry back to Jenn Grossers blog. I read your blog and I appreciate and understand pain since I have grown up handicapped and have been mocked at . Even as a believer, I was given a thorn of a pain that whenever i ponder sin, I get a deep conviction in my soul. And from a fall I took at work, I live with daily headaches. i take that as a cross to bear for me. May you be blessed as you serve Jesus. peace. scott


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