POD #24: The Spiritual Contrarian Question
What’s one important truth about you, your soul, your life, the world or your future that very few people would agree with you on?
Answer like this: Most people think ________, but the truth is ____________.
How do you know this truth?
What, if anything, did you have to reframe to get to this contrarian conclusion?
What possibilities does your ability to think differently than the rest of the world open up for you?
Mary, Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.
Immediately when I ready the title of this prompt my mind went to the childhood nursery. I forgot that it was about Queen Mary, aka “Bloody Mary. She was the daughter of Henry VIII that slaughtered Protestants.
Then my mind went to my childhood, as then and now I am quite contrary. I tend to be contrary for contrary sake. It makes me smile. Sometimes it is something I believe, other times I just want to make others think about why they believe what they do. My mom used to say that “Contrary was my middle name.” Of course, truth be told she told me a lot of things were my middle name, trouble also comes to mind.
Most people think of sin on a continuum. But the Truth is actions are either sin or not sin. I know this truth because God really had to work it out in me. We either are in complete right standing with God or we are not. Sin, in any sense separates us from God. He does not see murderers any different from how He sees a liar – they are both sinners separated from Him. He does not see a rapist any different than He sees someone who steals something invaluable – they are both sinners separated from Him.
While I can’t go into details of how God worked this out in me due to confidentiality, lets just say my professional path crossed a victim of unspeakable things. As I learned the details, I a watched as the justice system failed the victim and family. For some reason, I took it pretty personal. My heart was broken and I was filled with rage.
I could not sit through a church service without feeling convicted of my rage towards the perpetrator of the crime. Then I would feel ashamed for my thoughts. The only thing I could do was the only thing I know to do when I don’t like my thoughts – talk to God about it. I would like to say we had one conversation and it was resolved, but I wasn’t easily persuaded.
I talked with God about how the perpetrator needed justice, or in my mind punishment of a severe nature up to and leading to death. When I was met with the voice of forgiveness, I stonewalled God. I could not imagine forgiveness for such unspeakable things. Trying to fathom that the perpetrator could be in Heaven was not something I was willing to consider. Weeks passed, the whole situation consumed me.
About that time I went to a Christian conference where the speaker said something that really stuck with me. “What angers you the most is what you are called to change.” At the time I felt that would take on advocating for systemic changes. It couldn’t help the family I was working with, but maybe help someone else not have to go through it.
Finally God broke through my hardened-heart. For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. James 2:10 OUCH! I wasn’t a murderer, a rapist, a drug dealer. I have told multiple lies. I have stolen when I was a child and took a magazine at the store. I have committed adultery and murder in the biblical sense (Matthew 5) as I have held anger in my heart and have certainly looked lustfully on a member of the opposite sex. I am guilty. I am just as guilty of sin as the perpetrator that was the object of my anger.
What I realize looking back, is that my mindset is what angered me the most. Walking in conviction those weeks for something that was outside of my control to change that is what angered me. My contrarian question is that when it comes to sin, aren’t we all on the same level? It is certainly not a popular thought.
Reframing this thought has helped me to have compassion when working with others. I do not believe that anyone sets out from birth with the idea of creating havoc on the world around them. There are multiple factors that take people down the wrong path. Knowing that each person has a story that led them to where I meet them, allows me to look past the action to the person that Christ died to save. Since that time God has brought to my path people who have committed murder, child molestation, drug dealers, and I have been able to look at them through His eyes of compassion. I still expect them to take responsibility for thier actions. I still want them to face the consequences of their actions. They can move beyond being broken and damaged to healed and whole. I know that no one is beyond the saving power of Christ. There is always hope in Him because His love never fails.
This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.