I arrived to find files on my desk which used to be K’s, because she left yesterday. It was sad, but punctuated the end of a long, drawn out battle which neither side wanted to fight anymore. Peace seemed to have returned.
I looked at the scrap of paper attached to these files though – ‘this is a bit of a mess’…’Not sure what’s gone on here, you may need to abort and start again’…
It struck me as so grotesque, this relentless picking apart. Okay, this is not a book of her ‘life’ but then it also kind of is. Relationships she had made with these young men, conversations she’d had, thought put in, judgement weighed and tested… I understood – or thought I understood – acutely how those last weeks had been at that moment when I looked at the scrap of paper reducing all of it to a few words…
‘May need to abort’
I couldn’t help but think it so unfair that one person could have to come under such scrutiny, with the rest of us not – yet. And then I had to check my knee-jerk selfish reaction – ‘at least it wasn’t you’… Because it is. When one part of the body hurts, we all hurt, right? We aren’t to consider our neighbour’s pain as indistinct from our own, or for a second believe ourselves immune from a similar pain coming and infiltrating our lives.What would my life – any of our lives – look like under the lens of such scrutiny? What would the file notes look like? ‘Not sure what’s gone on here…’ Perhaps they would be aborted, passed on to someone else to have a go at salvaging something from the wreckage.
In a society where success is based on height and might where is the space for the messy sideways sprawl and sometimes downwards trajectory that help make up the richness of our life-tapestry? Were my life under the lens of the world, it would reveal a painful-glorious tapestry of joy, sadness, love, distress, good intentions, jealousy, sacrifice, greed, tears, self-regard, laughter, half-truths and sometimes no-truths. What is so often a covering-up-imperfection-and-keeping-up routine would be exposed. The constant self-editing to make sure the image I project is one I am comfortable with – and I’ll deal with the dirty stuff which is hidden in the folds later.The thought makes my chest constrict. What would people in church say? What would my parents, John, colleagues, friends… We are good, I think, in a post-modern era borrowing emotional intimacy from the Americans at ‘baring’ our souls in certain arenas. But I know for me at least, this is kept sanitary – and certain bits ‘bared’ to certain people. There’s maybe no one I would let rifle through the file of my inner life without question.Of course this comes back to the fact that – aha, this self-edit has all been foiled! – for we are fully seen, and fully known. We have been searched to the recesses of what we know and don’t know of ourselves and have been judged by One who knows more than we would rightly dare to understand.
What would our life-file review note say?
RighteousWhiter than snow, a daughter, an heir to all that is Christ’s, treasured…
It’s sort of like knowing the end of the story before beginning. Yes, the hidden stuff, lies, the ‘not enough’ has to be dealt with and the daily redeeming of the great Love is not a cover up act, but to know we are deemed ‘enough’ and ‘righteous’ becomes a glorious, safe, redeemed starting point from which we can gently do this life-file review, hand in hand with the maker of righteous hearts, and so by proxy, hand in hand with each other. Tentatively, we can let each other in, and practice kindness, compassion, empathy, patience, as we sort through each others’ life-files together. In this Way, we won’t have each other’s files thrown on our desks but we will all be in the arena, arm in arm and heart to heart, figuring it out as brother and sister.
By rights the note atop the wreckage and sideways-mess of our lives may suggest that it’s time this thing was aborted. And yet Love goes right there into the wreckage itself and turns it inside out, a redemption story.
Thank you Love for being enough to cover all our faults, our weakness, our difference. Thank you that in Your Way, we can be put under scrutiny and be found glorious.