A Travelogue of the Interior

faith questions

Guilty

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Lately, my words have been hurting someone I deeply love. My temptation is to be self-righteous, self-justifying and defensive, but I hate that tendency as much as I hate being hurtful, however unintentionally.

I want to come easily and without self-aggrandizing explanation to the notion that I am wrong (see previous post). The details don’t matter — if I am wounding someone I am, in some way, wrong. Insensitive. Not listening. Putting myself above. Defending myself when I ought to be defending them. Shrinking the acceptable space instead of expanding it. I am not loving well.

I’ve spent a lot of waking hours — even the ones I should be sleeping — praying about all this, and have come back over and over again to my Psalm 7 poem. I wrote this in the spring of 2011, but it is as true today as then.

I cannot wait to be rid of this body of sin.

***

Superscript: In Psalm 7 David represents the typical worldview of his day, namely that he is experiencing persecution as a direct result of his sin, that God is inflicting him with dire circumstances to force his repentance.  But David emphatically rejects this as the case, deciding instead that his enemies are unjust in their assault and that God will vindicate him.

This turnaround should give us pause to observe that David has just rewritten the “rules” that governed his theology. God is supposed to be like this, he says at the beginning, but then as his poem takes shape he discovers to the contrary that God’s dealings with him are less punitive and more faithful than he first supposes.

It only took one reading of this psalm for me to conclude that I was fully unlike David; whereas he was innocent, I was guilty through and through. God unflinchingly directs my attention to the breadth and depth of so many ways I fall short of His standard every day; my sin is ever before me. But God is also more than willing to painstakingly unmake me, beginning ever again to create in me a pure heart. It is the greatest hope of my life.

Guilty
(Psalm 7)
 
If I have done this
If I have taken what is not mine
If I have spoken what should be left unsaid
or been silent when words were required
 
If I have played the part
If I have played pretend
If I have dug my own well
or forced new wine into old wineskins
 
If I have whitewashed my own tomb
If I have forgiven my own sin
If I have been deaf to Nathan and Shimei
or the donkey, even
 
Then Hound of Heaven
Rend me limb from limb
Tear flesh from bone
Leave no sinew or tendon whole
 
Trample my life to the ground and
make me sleep in the dust.
Then, El ‘Elyon, from the dust I will
sing praise, finally, with a pure heart.

 

 

Author: karen d

Thinker, Dreamer, Traveler. Recovering Pharisee.

4 thoughts on “Guilty

  1. I’m new to your blog, and don’t know any of the particulars of the situation you refer too. Your heart really comes through in this post. Your humility and honesty is touching.

    “if I am wounding someone I am, in some way, wrong.” – I agree. If someone is hurt, we at least have some responsibility and may need to alter something about our behavior or approach – admitting our faults. Yet, there is responsibility on their side too. I think there are times that we can be mostly innocent – yet a certain person is just going to be offended no matter what we do, or don’t do, or say.

    I had a close friend once (who is now an acquaintance only) who just seemed committed to mis-understanding me. I’d share the same thing with several people, and only this one friend was offended. She seemed to twist anything I said into something it was not. I spent so much time thinking, praying, analyzing the situation. I felt bad I was causing offense. I certainly did not want to be hurting my friend. I did alter my approach with her and changed a couple things, yet it reached a point where I realized that nothing I did would be enough. I could not be myself with her. Our friendship drifted from close friend to acquaintance – which I think was for the best.

    Anyhow, I have used your post as a springboard for my own personal sharing. And it may not relate at all to your situation! But thanks for listening and for your heartfelt and humble post.

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    • Hi laura, I really love that you shared part of your story here! I learn so much from hearing other people’s experiences and how they make sense of them over time. I do agree with you that most of the time it takes two to tango 🙂 I have had a few experiences like the one you shared, where there was no possibility of being understood and accepted. That is so painful but I agree with you that in those instances having healthy boundaries is the best choice.

      In this particular instance, my friend is an amazing person who really knows me deeply — our history is long and storied — and she was actually able, where I failed, to identify what was really the point of tension. Once she articulated it it was like the sun came out and shined all over everything 🙂 So, bummer for me but i’m fairly sure I was pretty much responsible on this one and thankfully she is gracious but also as strong-willed and stubborn as me so she just kept pushing back and from that strong stance we always form a deeper bond.

      That said, i do really love your comment and it helps me to know too that there are, indeed, times when relationships need to be modified for health and sanity!

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      • Your friend sounds like a friend that we all need. A true friend, in my opinion, cares for you enough to say tough things at times. And it is great that you could “receive” what she had to say.

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  2. Yeah, David comes across as self-delusional much of the time. God’s grace is that David was still the apple of God’s eye. So are you, Karen, even if you have done some hurtful things recently to someone you love and cherish.

    Frankly, when you write of being “self-righteous, self-justifying and defensive” you could just as easily be writing about me. And about tons of other people too. God’s mercy is on us all who belong to him, though. Who deserves that grace? No one. Who receives it? Us undeserving ones. It’s a conundrum, but I’m glad for it none the less.

    Liked by 1 person

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