Wednesday, September 10, 2008

two angles

I got an anonymous comment from Monday’s post that I thought I would wrestle with a bit. It’s definitely the first openly critical comment I’ve ever gotten; it hurts real bad, but it’s also good for me, I think.

I thought about deleting the comment and the post, but that seemed like image maintenance to me. I’ll be honest, the hurt I feel is entirely a product of my desire to look good. I read back through my post with different lenses, and I can see that it comes across as unfeeling—the girl at the bus stop is presented as a neutral prop in my setting, instead of as a soul, created by God and in need of real love. In fact, I need to ask her forgiveness for walking by, and ironically, I’ll be seeing her again in a few days, so I’ll be praying for courage. That said, I’m making a few changes to the post, but in general, I’m leaving it the same. Part of learning how to write is learning from mistakes and receiving criticism, and I can’t just erase every mis-step as if it never happened. The only reason to do so would be to make myself look good.

My intention in writing that post was to make fun of myself, to look back on the myriad selfish reasons why I often don’t say hi to people I know when I see them from a distance (this is certainly not the first time that’s happened). I hope it made me look a bit ridiculous, but if it didn’t, then I failed to paint the picture I intended. I feel genuinely convicted by God, even more now after receiving this comment, that I can’t ignore his people; not because I’m tired or in a hurry, and not even because I’m shy or afraid. I appreciate being called out on that.

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I would also like to come at this situation from another angle, so: permission to speak boldly. From here on out, I’ll be monitoring my comments more closely, and as a general rule, I won’t be posting anonymous comments. I’ve gotten a few in the past, and since I’m an avid blog reader, I’ve noticed that they provide license for saying pretty much whatever one wants without consequences. That is, of course, the nature of the internet these days, but I’ve seen extremely hurtful things happen to people I love at the hands of blogs. And I guess this blog has a longer reach than I realized. If you know me, love me and care about me, I will take constructive criticism from you any day, and the odds are good you already have my personal email address. Write away. In fact, I’m probably going to need some feedback for this post.

Since the comment references New Life, I’ve decided to speak up, although it’s hard to know what is meant by “New Life,” since it is a giant mass of individuals. Many of these individuals are my family, and while I personally may do a somewhat crappy job at loving people and have, on many occasions, run away from messiness, it is entirely untrue that we, as a church, avoid pain, brokenness and unhappiness. Let it be known that I AM A MESS, my husband is a mess and all my best friends are complete messes. We are hurting and very often unhappy.

But everyday I watch my husband pour out his life for other people in pain, and I watch my friends love and pursue people who are depressed, sick, addicted, afraid, or alone. Does anybody ever love perfectly? Definitely not. But these people have given up their lives to try to love like Jesus. They are washed in the blood of Christ, they are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, and there is NO condemnation for them. None.

I claim this truth of the Gospel on behalf of my family, not just at New Life, but all around the world.

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To my anonymous commenter: I'm bold in my words, because I want to respond to what you said. I am not condemning or judging you as a person. You have been hurt, I'm sure, and I completely understand your frustration. If I've met you before, is there any chance you'd want to hang out with me? I've been wrestling my whole life with that question of "how much of this is even real?" My own fakeness is despicable to me. I really want you to know what it has been like for me to learn how to truly love God, even in the midst of that temptation to hide. I'd like to be a listening ear for you too, if you're looking for one. Please feel free to facebook me...

4 comments:

jenni said...

Thank you for your honesty, Meg. It was funny reading these 2 posts tonight. I have given of myself over and over again over the years and even the past week have had to have some tremendously hard conversations with people I truly love VERY deeply.

I have sacrificed my emotions, energy, love, time, etc. to especially love a group of REALLY burned, hurting people in my life right now.

And it's just resulted in pain.

And, yet. I'm confident it's what Jesus would do and wants for us.

As for the church- yes, we can SEEM fake. I will admit that. But, please, whoever reads these things, realize that we are just human beings. We are more than Sunday mornings. We are souls who hurt, who are MESSY, who are broken.

I ask myself "why?" so often. On nights even like tonight where I am going to cry myself to sleep because of how much I give and how much I'm criticized and can't be perfect, I ask "is it worth it?"

Loving the people God created is ALWAYS worth every ounce of pain.

I am a COMPLETE mess who is proud of it and proud to be a close friend to Meghan.

Anonymous said...

Meghan,
I still choose to remain anonymous but I just wanted you to know that I did not intend to hurt your feelings with that comment. I am so sorry. I was just hurting for that girl because I have been her and have had people whom I thought loved and cared about me abandon me in my most desperate times of need. It made me feel worthless, broken, and flawed. I felt as if I was doing something wrong by feeling so bad and not knowing why, especially when everyone around me seemed to disapear when things got worse for me emotionally. I know that people don't always know what to say or do but being on the brink of suicide, I guess I prayed that someone would help me or find someone else who could. It made me question god and these people who constantly preached love and family. I understand that people are not perfect, I am a prime example, but I just hope that the broken people are not skipped over or forgotten as I have felt and experienced. It is a place I would not wish on my worst enemy. I am sorry my words hurt you. I only meant to give another side to your story. Please forgive me.

Meghan said...

Hi Anonymous. I'm hoping you decided to come back and read my response. Thank you so much for your apology; I really really appreciated it. And hearing more of your story definitely makes you seem more real. I did get a chance to apologize to my friend at the bus stop last week, and it was great to get to receive grace from her. I have you to thank for that deeper conviction.

I did receive your comment directed to Meghan Winters. I’ve decided to take her comment down and ask you to please email her—she offered her address in her post. I hadn’t spoken with her at all in the last few weeks (until today), but I know that she put her contact information down, because she would much prefer to speak with you directly about the hurt that your original comment caused her.

Since you can’t read my tone, please hear my words as a plea: you are obviously still very hurt. It is no longer biblical to remain anonymous. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (Matthew 18:15).

Meghan W. and I are in a particular bad position, because there is disunity in our relationships with you, but our hands are tied. You may not have intended to hurt or give offense in your original comment, but by referencing New Life so specifically, you indicted a very large group of people. How is Meghan or anyone else expected to respond in a biblical way, if you do not confront us personally, instead of anonymously and publicly?

This cyber-conversation is particularly unsettling, because I can’t tell if you still attend New Life or did attend, and if so, how long ago? I have been around for seven years, Meghan longer, and I find it difficult to believe that we have not at the very least met you. What’s worse, you could be someone that I see often. How can we allow this to go on?

If you email me (meghanlou@gmail.com), I will not look down on you once I know your name. This is not about my ego or yours—this is about God’s name being glorified and the unity of the church being protected at all costs. If there’s something that I’m radically passionate about, it is unity in the church, and I don’t know what else to do besides this. Please take some time to consider contacting me, Meghan W., and/or your friends who abandoned you, to express your hurt. God’s whole business in this world is reconciliation, and it is His will that it happen among his people.

Meghan said...

Oops, I guess I should include Meghan Winters' contact info, since I removed her comment: mob@umich.edu.