In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Sunday, October 30, 2005

How Much Grace is Too Much?...or When Is Forgiveness Complete?

Here's a little follow up to my last post. On Friday, I went to a CD release party. This was for someone that I have gotten to know very well. We've worked together on a few projects now. However, I first met her when she was working for an organization called Youth Encounter. It was an organization I really wanted to be a part of. The basis is that they organized music ministry teams to travel around the US and the world. I was accepted onto an international team to go to Papua New Guinea.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was kicked out of this organization after I came out to my team. It was a huge blow to my perception of the world, and how well I can handle it. Before YE, I had assumed that I could charm anyone into accepting me, even if they weren't all that pro-gay. YE changed my perspective.

It took several difficult months to get over it. Actually, I think I'm still not completely over it. I think about my team (many of whom seemed to turn on me). I can get angry all over again.

I was told in those months following my exile that I was a very gracious person. I didn't publicly slander my teammates or the organization. I even saw my team on occasion when they passed through town. As you can see, I'm a little more forthcoming with information now. I want to be a reformer for the organization, even though I imagine they would like to distance themselves from me.

I have really only kept in touch with one of my former teammates. He and I were very close on team, and he was in seminary the same time I was. We didn't have a lot of "patching up" to do. It seemed that we would be able to get along pretty well.

Well, at the CD release party, one of my "other" teammates was there. She was probably one of the most vocal about how my sexuality was damaging her devotional life. She was an advocate for my getting kicked off team. I have told her that I forgive her. However, I also know that I'm not going to blindly walk into that sort of relationship again.

I friend told me that she was there soon after I arrived. Then I saw her. We didn't say hi, or even acknowledge each other's presence. So, why do I still have knots in my stomach when I think over this "near encounter"? When will I believe that this "forgiveness" has taken place. I would like to be living past this whole affair, but when something like that encounter happens, I feel like I'm back into it.

It reminds me that forgiveness is no easy task. Peter set the bar very high when he asked Jesus if we should forgive as many as seven times. Jesus made true forgiveness like I want to have for my ex-teammate impossible. I guess this is where we recognize our shortcomings as humans, and rely on God.

4 Comments:

Blogger Adam Smolinski said...

brava.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I read a book years ago that said forgiveness is complete when I can remember what happened and see where God was in that event, how God used it for my good in spite of (or even through) the pain and dislocation it caused me. So I have tried to start dealing with and letting go of those things that still hurt by looking for God in them. Not in a Pollyana-ish way, but with confidence that God was there; I was just not paying attention at the time. This was a part of my coming out to myself process as I looked for where God was/is in my being gay and beginning tho thank God for it.

As Chief Dan George said at the end of Little Big Man, "Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't."

10:05 AM  
Blogger Ross said...

It's funny, because this event really influenced my vocational direction. I do recognize that God has had a big hand in this process...and it ultimately made me a better person.

Maybe forgiveness and pain are not as related as I would like to think they are. I may never feel good in that sort of situation, but I can still forgive those who make me uncomfortable.

Thanks for the thought. That helps me think through it.

12:30 PM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Not too long ago a fairly good online friend of mine -- we used to joke that we were twins separated at birth because of our similarities -- found out that I was gay, and I immediately got the cold shoulder. This was very hurtful to me; like I say, we were very good online friends. And because we still frequent the same Christian discussion forums, we still interact, but it's like she's talking to a stranger. I can only hope that she is still "processing," and after awhile the tension is going to lessen. Because I'm still the same person I was for the several years we've known one another. Sigh.

5:49 PM  

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