In your face

If another sins against you, 
go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.
—Matthew 18.15

How essential—
and how hard, sometimes—
to choose to speak to someone, not about them.

We complain about people behind their backs,
sometimes making up excuses
that we don’t want to “hurt their feelings”—
but talking behind their backs hurts their feelings.
We don’t want to “make them mad”—
assuming they’ll get mad,
and assuming that’s bad,
and assuming we can’t handle that.
All baloney.
We do it because we are afraid to speak the truth,
to stand for what we believe,
to ask for what we want.
We’re afraid to cause them some discomfort,
and to be OK with their discomfort.
So instead we whine, gossip, complain,
and let it fester. And they don’t learn,
and we don’t get what we need.

Jesus’ advice to be direct is not just good psychology.
It’s also good religion.
It’s good practice to be direct with God.
And when you are direct, you have to risk vulnerability—
that is, trust God’s grace. A little death and resurrection.
And it reminds us God is direct with us.
No bank shots. No games. No “say this and hope they do that.”
As Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes.”
God forgives us not because Jesus dies (an unnecessary bank shot)
but because God forgives us.
God doesn’t send disaster so we get some hint.
God tells us straight out: I want justice. I want love. I want you.
Our failure to be direct with people
is just practice for avoiding God.
But the grace is that even when we turn away from God
we’re still facing God.
In the end, uncomfortable as you sometimes have to be,
give thanks that God is so completely in your face.
I mean, really: where else—how far off— would you want God?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

September 1, 2020

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