Have you ever been wrong about someone? No? Me neither … I wish.
Have you ever said something hurtful and then realized that you had your facts wrong or that you had misread the situation? It is really bad when you have been feeling self-righteous and judgmental.
I just finished reading a story about a man released from prison because the jury was so outraged by how horrific the crime was that they didn’t pay close enough attention to the person they decided to blame. The jury judged so harshly because they saw what a human was capable of, and it terrified them. They couldn’t look the accused in the eye or listen to his voice or his side. They had to judge him, sentence him, get him out of their sight, lest they have to deal with what might be in their own souls.
A friend who is a very successful pastor and leader made a mistake. We all have, but the difference is her colleagues tried to use hers to destroy her. They didn’t succeed, but they might have. She wondered why they tried because she certainly had done nothing to hurt them. It was easy to say it was jealousy, but I think it was more than that. Somehow, when a successful person stumbles, the blood in the water stirs a primordial fear in us. We attack because we must numb the fear that, if they can make a mistake like that, well, what might we do? Oh, there is jealousy and a chance to bring someone down to our size, but it is because we are afraid of how small a size we might be if the truth ever came out about us.
These days I stay in bed for a long time before I get up. Part of it is because I am afraid. I know that I carry in my heart a lot of pain, grief, and fear, and I can’t take it out on the cancer. It terrifies me, though, who I might take it out on. It would be nice if I thought I was too healthy or holy to do that. Unfortunately, I’m just healthy enough to know that I’m not. So, I lay there and pray that will be enough.
Lent is an invitation to dare to know these things about ourselves lest others pay the price.
Rev. Michael Piazza