Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My Poor Confused Friend

I've been kicking around a thought lately. It all originated with a post I read on Twitter. It was written by author Ann Lamont. This is what she said ... "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better."

I'm attempting to decide if I agree with that. And if I do are there parameters around it which should not be broken. It is a more difficult question than it might appear at first glance.

I like what she wrote. When I contemplate allowing people who have cause pain over the years to be allowed to take ownership of their acts it feels good. It feels right. I do try to own my actions. I'm quite the professional at screwing-up. I've had decades to work it into an art form. Most of my friends and family avoid hesitation when they catch me in a mess up. They absolutely adore the opportunity to bring it to light. Even more so if the mess up is intentional. Every Sunday I stand up and speak to many intelligent adults. I teach them biblical truths. I deal in theology. And I deal in the human spirit. The technical definition of "theology" might be something like "the study of God." That's a big and unwieldy statement. How do you study God? That is like a dust mite trying to study the Serta factory. It's better in theory than in practice. A more realistic definition of theology might possibly be "studying the connection of the human Spirit to God by way of the Holy Spirit and pretending to figure out God's actions and intent throughout history." Still pretty impossible, isn't it? But if, in the process of my teaching, I get it wrong there are any number of highly intelligent and biblically literate humans listening who will quickly and succinctly correct me. As they well should. I encourage them to do so. I live in great fear of speaking incorrectly about God. I have been given much and, thus, much is required of me.

So hold me accountable.

But I have this friend who has been wounded by other Christ-following believers. Really deeply wounded. It happens all of the time. And what if he has pretty much held all of that in for years. And the truth of what happened doesn't get any lighter. On the contrary, with each and every passing month his history just gets heavier and heavier. And he has a really bad taste left in his mouth from all of it. Try as he might he just can't quite put it all to bed because it's tied around him and has become a part of him. Sure, things have settled down. The wounding is historical. But the wounds themselves are still scabbed over. And the scabs keep falling off at the most inopportune times. Now that it's all history it can be left alone and everybody is happy. Except, of course, for the wounded warrior. He's moved along and is back in the thick of true spiritual victory. He's being blessed and used by his creator. Still ... there is this place. This dark place.

And along comes Ann Lamont. And she makes the bold statement, "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better." And my friend thinks that maybe if he takes Ann's route he will finally sleep better at night. He'll finally find a measure of relief and peace. Because it's been a long while since he truly owned those things.

I wonder what my friend does now.


Doug said...

Interesting way she framed her statement ... Im not sure you own everything that you have been 'part of'... But it can be healing to write about painful experiences... I just wouldn't presume everyone you'd write about would share that perspective.

Ron said...

I think we had better "own" everything that we have been a part of. Otherwise, it will most assuredly own us. That's where the rub comes in. Ann's statement is permission to go public with the pain and the perceived offense. I'm not certain that is always wise. Is there freedom in it? Perhaps. But at what price? Is a painful silence preferred over a potentially freeing noise ... which may lead to another noise ... and another ... and another ...

The Dashboard Poet said...

(The above is intended to deflect any meaningful thing I might accidently say. So, to further deflect, and thereby reveal my own wounds, I will simply say that your writing reminds me of Steve Brown. And your skill starts, not ends there).

Anonymous said...

One might get sued for slander if names were given & charges were never filed due to fear; or you buried your old wounds with help from meds. Anyways, you're right it still "owns" me and I doubt I'll ever truly enjoy this life until heaven.