I had an interesting conversation with a friend this week. It was about the moral character of a person. I used to be of the mindset that everything was black and white, good or bad. Either you had moral integrity, or you didn't have it. Either you were a good person or you weren't. This thought pattern led me to pass judgment on people based on what I could see and how it fit into the white/black/good/bad category. I wouldn't simply put them in the black or white zone, I would put them in the right/wrong box and there they stayed forever and ever amen. For the most part I was raised in a church that did the same thing. When people messed up, regardless of the redemption they may have found at the cross, they could never quiet find that kind of forgiveness in the church and they especially couldn't find forgetfulness that cast your sins as far and the east is from the west. I suppose that kind of redemption is considered strictly Divine attributes of our Lord. My question is should it not be an attribute that we, as followers of Christ, should strive to obtain? The Bible does tell us to forgive.... I believe it says 70 times 7, but to be honest with you I don't know of many who practice that verse, myself included. I can forgive, but dang it, forgetting is nearly impossible to do. Sometimes it's not even about forgiveness. It's easy to see friends, family and people in the community make bad choices, we may not even know them, but when the rumors hit our ears, we don't hesitate to dump them in the bad box, fold the flaps and walk away. I once knew a woman who was a wonderful wife and mother. In fact I believe her and her husband received a "Family of the Year" award. shortly thereafter she began to change. I had lost touch with her but I know that these changes effected her marriage, her children and eventually led to the murder of her best friend. I knew this woman. I had gone to church with her, I had been to her house, she was a good person.... and then something happened. After she was released from prison I talked to her ex-husband who said she had gotten her life back together, had a job and was attending church again. He seemed at peace with things and I admired his ability to speak of her without any hint of bitterness or anger. I wonder about her often. She will forever wear the label of "that woman". The story of what she did will follow her forever. I suppose it's just the law of reaping what you sow, but I can't help but wonder if Christ wouldn't rather us embrace the "new and improved" version and work on forgetting the small window in history where she wasn't new and definitely wasn't improved. Several years ago I took the Beth Moore bible study on David. Of her studies I believe I liked this one the most. The reason is because the bible specifically calls David a man after God's own heart. Yet when you read David's story it reads like a script off of Desperate Housewives. David failed time and time again. David made some horrible choices that also resulted in innocent deaths. Yet in spite of those errors in judgments.... The bible calls him a man after God's own heart. That is comforting to me. I require a lot of grace from the throne.... Not a little, a lot. I may not go out and commit murder, I may not conceal a crime, commit adultery, but I do believe the ability to do so lies deep inside each and every person... given the right circumstances. But for the grace of God go I. I heard a song the other day that spoke of this. The lyrics said.....
Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I'm lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turned their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don't see
But it's one missed step
You'll slip before you know it
And there doesn't seem a way to be redeemed (Sarah McLachlan)
That's how I've come to look at people.... Everyone is one misstep away from being forever labeled. Yet, to know that you can be wholly human, completely flawed and still be a man or woman after God's own heart.... Nothing short of amazing!!! Most people probably remember David for his failures and never stop to analyze his accomplishments. Why? Because as humans we tend to put people in a box, label, and fold the flaps. I'm just glad that Christ hasn't folded the flaps on me and in spite of myself. I can still be know by him as a woman after his heart... That's good news to this feisty gal, because we have all fallen and if we haven't then at some point in life we will. I'm working on unfolding the flaps of my boxes I've set aside, and releasing the ones that I've had trapped by judgment. Because when I fall, I don't want to be trapped in a box that I can never escape.