09 February 2007

Black and Blue

Maybe it wasn't obvious, but as I wrote last night's post, I was emotionally raw. I actually shed some tears, alternating with a clenched jaw and a hard stare. Playfulness tends to creep into my writing even when I'm furious, hurt or sad. It's my best mask. Anyway, last night I was letting frustration and hurt out, but I decided that once the new day had dawned, I would not be acting out of those feelings anymore.

That, of course, is easier said than done. Mentor group this morning helped. We probed topics of vocation and calling to ministry - what God's call has felt like and looked like in our lives. Not exactly a "safe" topic (I had a few teary-eyed moments), but definitely a good one. I cried a little as we prayed. Tera invited me in to sit on her couch and share my latest news and frustration. She kindly reminded me that I can't just will myself not to be hurt or mad. And she's right. Will power has it's limitations (especially mine!). I can't just stuff my frustration and hurt in a bottle, hurl it out to sea and brush the sand from my hands as it drifts out with the tide.

No - the hurt is going to stay a while longer. (Yet another thing that we can't switch off like a light... Hmm, sort of like a pointless but lingering crush.) Today it's more of a bruise: the sharp sting of the initial blow is gone, but the tender spot of black and blue remains. If I bump into things in the wrong way, it'll remind me that I'm still healing, but most of the day I almost forget that it's there.

Today is a good day to remember the kind of life that characterizes a person who has been buried with Christ in the waters of baptism and raised to new life together with him by the power of God.* It is a day to recall that I have taken off anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from my mouth. I might as well add a few more for good measure: self-centered complaining, sarcastic words, biting humor, defensive rhetoric. These are the filthy, tattered raiments of the old self - they don't fit anymore... well, at least, they shouldn't.

Stripping off the old self, I've clothed myself with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its Creator. That doesn't exempt me from hurt, frustration or discouragement, but it does change the way I should respond:

... clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. ...

I know I can't just flip a switch and turn off all of the hurt. But I think that maybe I can live into a different sort of response than the rage and frustration that seem to be my default. Some of those "new clothes" don't just come in a vacuum - sometimes it takes some friction to develop such virtues. I'll keep praying - these are fruits that mature through the active presence of the Holy Spirit. I can't cut it on my own.

* I live in Colossians these days. It's so full of rich baptismal imagery. I'm just drinking it in!


Jared Cramer said...

full disclosure: i hadn't noticed you mentioned the quote in the last post was from teresa, i just assumed you'd put julian . . . so, i'm not nearly as clever or tender as i come off, just a little oblivious . . .

but about the other, live in the hurt, live in the pain . . . be quiet, whimper, close your eyes and listen . . and hear the voice of god sitting next to you in your pain.

Kelli said...

Thanks, Jared. Sometimes it's hard to remember that hurt can be the place where we hear God most.

Looking forward to giving you a big hug next time I see you. Maybe I'll even smell like that manly stuff you wear for a few hours afterward! ;)