Thursday, September 13, 2012

You Have To Come Out

I just changed the settings on my blog comments. And I am going to tell you why.

I blog simply to share what's going on in my world. I blog so extended family members and friends can catch a glimpse of our lives. I blog to tell stories about our life. I blog to share what's going on in my church.

I blog so that my three children who are living away from home can keep up with what's going on here.

I blog because I believe it often gives God glory.

Sometimes, I blog because I think what I have to share might help somebody else.

And honestly, sometimes I blog simply because I like to write. I work things out with words. Sometimes, it's just all about me, writing for the sake of writing. Sometimes, I probably sound like a self-absorbed jerk.

I do not blog to gain admirers or build an audience. I do not blog to make you think I'm awesome; I am well aware of my own lack of awesomeness, and I know full well how broken I am. 

I do not blog to pontificate, or to declare positions. I do not blog to provoke conflict.

If that ever happens - on my blog or in real life -  my desire is to do everything I can to fix it; I am motivated by this quote:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone. Romans 12.18

That is who I am; it is how I am instructed to live by the Bible and by the tenets of my workplace. I take it seriously. I have sorely fallen short too often in my life; this mandate is one I cling to in the years I have left.

I am a Christ-follower. I am in ministry. I care about people.

But I am not perfect. I have made plenty of mistakes.

Hear me well here: I care about people, but I don't always get it right.

But I want to. I want to get it right. When I get it wrong, I want to make it right. I want to live in peace, at peace with everyone. I want to apologize when necessary and right wrongs and bring resolution.

If you enter your place of worship and, about to 
make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge 
a friend has against you, abandon your offering, 
leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. 
Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. Matthew 5.23

I take this seriously. I want to be a peacemaker.

When I started blogging here, I left everything wide open; who can read (anybody), who can comment (anybody), whose comments are moderated (nobody's). It felt like a safe place. There have always been a few anonymous commenters, folks who don't have a google account ID, who aren't registered with blogger. Sometimes the anonymous folks identify themselves, sometimes they don't. Sometimes I know who it is and sometimes I don't.

It's never really mattered.

But it matters now.

You commented recently, and it was harsh. It was rooted in truth - but only partially. You don't have the whole story right. But I understand - what matters to you is what you perceive to be true, and I get that. There's hurt and anger there, and it matters. I get it. And I'm not opposed to addressing it; I am not one to fight back and refuse to hear criticism. I am glad to hear how you feel.

I care about people. I care about you. I respect your opinion.

But right now, I am stuck. You made a statement, it was strongly worded and seems to reflect that there are some big issues with what you perceive to be attitudes and motivation in my area of responsibility, and there is nothing I can do. And it's not because I disagree with what you said, or because I disregard your anger or frustration; it's because you're hiding. And I get that, too; maybe it would be hard to say those things across a cup of coffee, or in the hallway. Maybe you don't think I'd listen.

But I did. I listened. I heard you. And it has wrecked me, for days now. Maybe that's sort of what you wanted. It wrecked me.

It's not because it was mean, or harsh, or untrue.

It's because I feel trapped, unable to do what I want most to do, what I feel we are called to do. There is no peace.

Maybe I'm wrong; maybe you are at peace, because you've had your say, you made your point. Maybe that helped you.

But there is something between us now. Sunday morning, during church, I wondered where you were, if you were out there, if you were distracted because of the conflict between us. I wanted to make it right. I wanted to sit face to face, sister to sister or brother, hear your heart and own my mistake and make peace. This will sit between us now, like a burr I cannot dislodge. I may see you in passing and never know it's you, but it hangs there, in the air around us.

And because I care about people, because I respect your opinion, because I am called to peace, it matters.

You wrecked me. But it's not because of what you said. It's because I am rendered helpless.

So I have prayed, and prayed. I have struggled with my calling. I have wondered what I can and should do as we move forward. I wrestle with what is true and what to do as we continue to adjust and plan for the future.

I know that I have to simply let this go. I asked to connect and got no response. It may never come. You have that right. But I hope you understand this about me:

I believe there is great profit in listening to criticism. Just yesterday, I sat across from someone who called me out on something I've done that they found offensive. I have done it repeatedly. It never occurred to me that it was offensive. It hurt to hear, but it helped so much. It hurt because I offended someone, not because I was called out for doing something wrong. But the gratitude for somebody willing to hold me accountable, to call me to a higher standard - that far outweighed the embarrassment. The relationship is solid and we're both focused on living at peace and building a stronger community. And I will change my behavior.

I'll never be perfect. I'll make my share of mistakes.

But you're going to have to take a deep breath and come out from behind the curtain if you want to call me out. I'll hear you. I promise. And we'll all be better for it.

No more anonymous comments. Of course, if you're determined, you can make up an ID and still remain unknown. But I'm not sure it is in my best interest to give you such a wide open door without the privilege of honoring your opinion by looking in your eyes.

Bottom line: if you want to connect, I'm open. I'll hear you. We will seek peace.

But you gotta come out.


Cyn Huddleston said...

Standing up openly and standing up for yourself are good things.

Lori said...

Oh Beth, I love this post. And I so agree with everything you said. And to may dismay and deep feeling, this has happened to me before. Similar critical with a splash of fairly strong anger. Umprompted, because as no one else could see anything to be angry about. I too served without expectation, in a selfless manner and humbly and honestly. I agreed with your quote about making peace. for that is the right thing to do.
I hate that you are so emotionally and spiritually stressed over this.... I myself so hate that lack of internal peace. It's a total upheaval and when that happens and we are blinded, we have nothing to touch, to put our finger on and say, "oh you there, or I here.... not a thing," and it hurts us deeply.
I am so sorry. I pray for you heart and soul to let it go and find your peace. Reclaim it. Papa would not want you this way. Truth is Beth, this is not your "problem or lesson" it's the other persons..... there is something THEY need to learn.... sometimes we are observers, even when things happen and directly involve us, we are sometimes called to just watch.
God is with you, uphold you by his spirit and know you do what you are called to do. It's the least thing that we can all do.
Deep peace and blessings to you.
Reach deep and find that one thing, It's there... it never leaves.
peace and love