Where Does It Hurt?
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So come to the whole story with fresh eyes, with me.

I wonder what would happen if I told my wife that I am forever unchanging.

She’s quite sensible, my wife.  I think most likely she would just roll her eyes and go back to what she was doing.

But I don’t think it would be unreasonable for her to be insulted at this statement.  Because to make the claim that I am forever unchanging is to make the claim that she can not change me.

I realize that there’s this whole debate about how much we should want to change our spouse and how much we should accept them as they are.  I’m not talking about those kind of changes.  This is not about whether I should get better at folding the laundry, and communicating my feelings, or scraping all the food off my plate before I put it in the dishwasher.

This is not even about whether I should be a better communicator, or get a grip on my tempter, or be more polite or corteous or whatever.

This is about whether the acts of another person can impact me.

For me to tell my wife that I am forever unchanging is for me to tell her that she can not have an impact on me.  It is for me to tell her that I don’t particularly care what she does, that all of my feelings about all of her actions are quite neutral.

I could have just as easily said “I don’t love you.”

The very act of love is an act of submission and vulnerability.  It is to say “I am going to allow you to hurt me.”

It is as if we are superman, and we have a lump of kryptonite in a lead box.  To love someone is to give them that box and to say “I trust you not to use this.”

We can go through the motions and pretend.  But if a person can’t hurt us deeply, we are not in love with them.  And if you think that being hurt by someone is not to be changed, you have never been truly hurt.

Hurt, of course, is just the most extreme example.  To love someone is to be changeable in other directions, to.  If we love someone then we are changed when they love us back.  We are changed when they engage in acts of kindness.  We are changed when they suffer by suffering along with them.


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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.

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