Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Humble Stumble Toward Grace

I had a grace-filled week last week. I visited Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative where I got to spend time with two of my favorite people -- Deborah Fisch and Carrie Newcomer.  It was my first trip to IYM-C and I was a bit nervous since the only person I really know from there is Deborah.  But I, from a Friends United Meeting meeting and a Friends General Conference staffer, was greeted graciously by Iowa Friends.  They were friendly and kind and welcomed me in ways beyond mere politeness.  I had some wonderful conversations and the times of worship were deep, too.

Carrie's afternoon workshop and evening concert were Spirit-filled.  My soul was enlarged as her ministry of music washed over and through me and all the others in the room.  So you would think that, as I returned home, I would have been so soaked in the Spirit that my continual stumble toward grace might actually be a stroll for a while.  After all, when I have been blessed by grace, immersed in it, I often find myself more graceful toward others.

Well, it was a short stroll.  Sigh.

I am just bad at being good.  As I turned on my computer to catch up on emails and the like, I encountered this on a friend's Facebook page.

This picture happens to coincide with many of my values... but my friend (with whom I often disagree) had put a statement on his page reflecting his profound disagreement with these sentiments, basically saying that this was a matter for individuals and charities, not the government.  For some reason, this tweaked my over-sensitive political and faith feelings so I wrote a little post noting that Colbert does not say that the government should do this.  He was saying that Christ followers "just don't want to do it."

Which sparked some other comments -- about whether the US is a Christian nation (which I don't believe it is), what Colbert was implying (if not saying straight out), and so forth.

Then a person chimed in with a long post about a whole range ills caused by the government and left-wing Democrats.  Which really piqued my (self-) righteous indignation for a whole lot of reasons. I didn't want to write a hasty response, so instead, while mowing for 2 hours, I composed a wickedly smart satirical retort that, in my opinion, completely dismantled this specious, fallacious, and malicious post.  It was brilliant.  So I posted it.

Very quickly the poster responded with another long post.  This one accused me of impugning his character and other un-graceful acts. Which was not my intent.  My intent was to impugn his argument -- which in my opinion -- was horribly flawed and completely errant.

As I though about what he said, though, I had to admit that my intent was not that pure.  My intent was also to show, through the use of satire and my amazing cognitive abilities, how clever I was by dismantling his "errors."  I have to admit to being completely convinced of what an easy job it was going to be to destroy this wrong thinking.  A big win for my big brain and big wit.

So much for being either grace-filled or graceful.  So, trying to recover my center, I took the posts down and sent a note of apology.  Not for the position, but for the snarky way I said what I said.

It was a good lesson for me.  One I seem to need again and again.  When I am being brilliant and witty and slicing an intellectual opponent with my razor-sharp thinking, I am not relying on the Spirit.  Nope, I'm relying on good old J. Brently Bill's ego.  I see Jesus smacking his forehead and going, "Doh!  Not what I had in mind."  Sigh.

Yep, I think God made me smart and witty.  But not so I could display it at someone else's expense.  So once again I had to stumble to be made humble so that I can continue to be made in the image of Christ.

I'm just bad at being good.

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