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Monday, February 20, 2017

Wait… Why Am I Doing This?

Romans 12:9-21, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.  On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NIV).

I feel as if every word of this passage struck deep chords in my heart, today, but the phrase that stood out most prominently was the first one,

“Love must be sincere…”

As a rule, I am adamant about being real and authentic, to the degree that sometimes things come out of my mouth that I probably would have been better off swallowing.  But I’m not going to lie—I’ve had some “Fake it ‘til You Make It,” moments here lately.

I’ve been frustrated.  If I’m honest, I am scared to death that the completion of my M.Div. and subsequent rejection letter from the only doctoral fellowship to which I applied for this fall, are going to cause me to go invisible in the academic world.  Don’t misunderstand this as my usual hyperbole.  I am terrified.

There have been a few moments when I have had to say to myself… out loud…  “It’s not a competition!”  

I am forcing myself to live by those wise words and fuzzy feelings that include everybody making it, because I am so afraid that I’m not going to ‘make it’…  It’s really awful…

Because…  Let’s just say I don’t. 

Let’s just say that after years of education and planning and hard work and preparation, I find myself in a place where I’m kind of impoverished (as only Americans can understand it) and my degrees get dusty and I sing and dance with babies and feed hungry people and masquerade as sort of Catholic, while I administer sacraments, incognito, to prostitutes and drug addicts and homosexuals and kids who haven’t been baptized yet, because I just remembered that I don’t technically have all the right papers hanging on my wall to wear the collared shirt I just ordered, last night, and no one remembers my name (which actually might serve me well, since I don’t go by my name, but everybody wants to use it anyway).

Let’s just say that happens…  Then what?

The answer was not what I wanted to ‘hear,’ but here it comes…

“You better mean it.”

And, of course, by “you,” I mean, “I,” because these are my people…

I better mean it…

“Love must be sincere…”

It’s incredibly easy to talk about love.  Doing love is harder.  Being love… well, it will crush you.  But the great news about that is, once you’re shattered into so many pieces you could never even hope to put them all back together, there is nothing to do but allow yourself to spill out all over the place, and all of that bleeding and oozing tends to find its way down into the cracks… you know the ones… where so many precious people have fallen.  I’ve never been convinced that ‘broken’ is a dirty word.

To be continued…


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