Friday 31st of October 2014
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember
that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front
of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and
offer your gift.
The process of recovery increases our awareness of the ways we have hurt
other people. For many of us this realization leads almost instaneously
to shame. And shame leads almost immediately to increasingly desperate attempts
to be perfect in order to mask the feeling that we are fundamentally flawed.
The downward cycle of failure-shame-trying harder-failure will gradually
immobilize us as our self-contempt and depression increase.
In this text Jesus invites us to give up on trying harder. He suggests
a completely different and very practical way of dealing with failure. Notice
that Jesus assumes that living in community will lead to the need for making
amends. The assumption is that we will not be perfect. We can expect to
fail from time to time. Failure need not lead to shame or perfectionism
because failure is normal. We all experience it. Accepting this basic reality
is the first step in the process toward a healthy response to failure.
Jesus suggests that awareness of our failure doesn’t have to lead to
trying harder. It can lead to honesty and making amends. We are to speak
directly about the problem, ask for forgiveness, make amends as appropriate,
and be reconciled if possible.
I fail, Lord.
And then I am ashamed of my failure.
And then I work twice as hard not to fail.
And then I fail again. Lord.
And then I become even more ashamed of my failure.
And then I work ten times as hard not to fail.
And then I fail again..
Free me from the cycle of failure-shame-perfectionism.
Give me the courage to ask for forgiveness and to make amends.
Copyright 2014 Dale and Juanita Ryan
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