can I get a DOCTOR!?

If the church is the Body of Christ, then who/what is the doctor? So often symptoms and diseases and disabilities ferment inside the Body, while all the cells in the neck get together and discuss how the arm should respond, or the toes wiggle about and wonder what the stomach is doing up there anyway with all that space. Internal accusations feed on each other like a misinformed cancer. Incestuous, inside attempts at healing fail, because, well, sometimes “I need a doctor to bring me back to life,” as Eminem sings (raps?).

The media as of late has had a feeding frenzy on the bacteria of the Body. From Mark Driscoll to Ricky Sinclair to Ernest Angley, stories of scandal abound. And I think about my own life, and the life of friends and family I love, who also have self-amputated from the Body to prevent their own decay.  In response to these stories, mini to mega, my Synchroblogging friends have put out these questions:

…what would it look like for the Church as a whole when abusive leaders are held accountable and then are reconciled? How do we do that in such a way as to let victims be heard and redemption be the end goal? What does redemption and/or reconciliation look like in real life? What does grace look like in these situations?

Stay tuned for a link list at the bottom for others’ responses to these questions. I’d like to respond with these thoughts:

  • First and foremost, the Body needs to see a doctor. And not an internal doctor. An external doctor. An objective but wise counsel who can offer both a diagnosis and a treatment plan. In my opinion, there is no better healer to look to than the Native Americans, who have been practicing peacemaking circles long before Restorative Justice became latest alternative trend. What are the advantages of this? First and foremost, it is grounded in the idea that justice arises best from a strong sense of value for a unified community. And if that is not the ideal body type for the church, I don’t know what is. If a leader abuses his power (why did I automatically write “he” there?), that leader must sit in a circle with those traumatized by that abuse. The circle needs to discuss these questions: what happened, who was harmed, who is at fault, and who needs to repair what and in what manner, and how can the relationship be restored. It should be raw, authentic, messy, emotional, cathartic, brutal in honesty…but ultimately healing. And since it is a peacemaking circle, it may need to occur again and again, endless, in a cycle of courageous conversations that confront the illnesses in the Body. In fact, the Body should be taking regular doses of these supplements: a community connected by critical but compassionate conversations. These kinds of circles blur the lines between the leader and the led. These kinds of circles demystify the portrayal of perfection that runs rampant in the Body. These kinds of circles prevent the common responses of the body: turning a blind eye to the “sinner” or, worst, turning a back on the “sinner.” These kinds of circles prevent a mere public apology from the pulpit without weight and instead promote responsibility and repentance. These kinds of circles level the playing ground so that what is glorified is service and not supremacy. These kinds of circles foster raw revelations of the heart rather than painted portraits.

As I’ve thought about this post though, what my mind has fed on has not been the response to abuse in the church, but rather the proactive measures that should be taken. This is the kind of preventative medicine I would prescribe for the Body.

  • Leaders in the Body should not act nor be treated like soldiers of a higher rank. If we are a Body, than ALL of our parts matter. It is about how we work together, not in isolation in our awesomeness.  The flexing bicep might be more flashy, but ultimately without the anus’ expulsion of feces… well you get the point. Each part matters equally if not identically. As I write this, I am reminded of the story of David’s sin. Of course, we wonder how God and the Isrealites responded to his sin (probably as did the Old Testament Times, the media of the day; I can see the headline now: A Sexy Bath With Bathsheba: David’s Fall). But ultimately, what could have prevented this illness of the Body is David getting out of his comfy house of leadership and into the battle:

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Isreal…But David remained at Jerusalem. 

  • This brings me to my second dose of preventative medicine–the Body should not adhere to any of the prototypes prevalent in society. It should not look like a corporation; it should not look like a music venue; it should not be a well-oiled machine. It is a community, and by nature a community is messy. There is vulnerability, there is hurt and pain, there is reconciliation. There shouldn’t be PR, unless we’re talking personal responsibility. There shouldn’t be concern with an image, unless it’s “how does this apron look on me at the soup kitchen?” And of course, any of the leaders could answer that question, because they are in it, up to their eyeballs, fighting and lighting the world with their action and not just their polished words and glamorous power points.

It saddens my soul to watch the world paint an image of the church as a broken, abusive, toxic, profitable performance. It breaks my heart, more so, to know this is grounded is founded evidence. But I come back to the idea of resurrection. As the Body, we are risen. We can shine. We can love. We can restore.

I end in prayer, the only thing left to say:

May the Body heal…itself, the world.

St. Thomas Aquinas

To Read More Synchroblog Responses about This Topic:

releasing regret: an open letter to my parents

What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices? (Hayden

20443_239317132812_2302655_nDear Dad,

I write asking for your forgiveness for a deep regret that haunts me.

When I was young, when I was stupid and selfish, I use to watch TV as a way to unwind. And you would come into the family room, sit in your green leather recliner, and then fold your long, muscular fingers dotted with patches of wiry hair up to your lips in a triangle-temple grip. A gentle gesture of internal prayer, perhaps.

And you would start to ask me questions. Questions about my day. School. Work. My friends.

And I was so annoyed. After all, I had had a very taxing day and I deserved to have some time to sit in peace, without thought or conversation. And I snipped at you. “Dad, I just want to watch TV. Do we have to do this now?”

Deflated, but never angry with me, you would sink into yourself, away from me, and eventually out of the room.

And then you got sick. Then you couldn’t carry on a conversation with me. Then, eventually, you didn’t even know who I was.

And I would sit with you in desperation to connect with the old, healthy, remembering you, asking you questions. You would answer with distracted and lost retorts, clearly buried so far in your diseased self that you could not find your way out.

And now I mourn. I linger in regret for all the conversations I missed with you because I was too tired, too consumed with TV.

Forgive me Dad. Release me.

I love you and miss you terribly,

Your daughter.

camera download june2012 163

 

Dear Mom,

I write to you asking for forgiveness for something I regret.

You beat breast cancer. Then it came back in your lungs. Then you beat that. You quit smoking. I was so proud of you. But I was also grateful, because I thought this meant you had chosen your family–you had chosen me–over your addiction, and that choice meant we would have more time to spend and more memories to make.

But you started smoking again. And you didn’t even tell me.

I was so angry. I held it against you. I withdrew, as I always do when hurt. But I also withdrew, because I surrendered to your choice to not be healthy, to not do everything in your power to extend your life. Withdrawing meant that our impending separation would be easier, didn’t it?

How foolish was I. By being bitter at your choice to smoke again, I wasted precious time–sand tumbling so quickly to the bottom of the hourglass I didn’t realize was so ephemeral–I could have had with you. Alone, I made meager memories of anger when I could have been making memories of laughter with you.

Forgive me Mom. Release me.

I love you and miss you terribly,

Your daughter.

e879e7a727cdb6c407a84870823ab2ed

Kathy Mattea

forgive. rewrite.

Forgiveness (noun):

The act of rewriting a story

My mother-in-law is more than a mother-in-law to me…she is just Mom. And my day began today in deep and inspiring conversation with her, conversation which fed my soul.

She related to me how my relationship with my Mom inspired her in her relationship with her Mom. All the stories I share and memories I treasure prompted her to look for those memories and moments with her mother.

Which is no small feat. My mother-in-law grew up in a traumatic childhood, which though not directly created by her mother was definitely deepened by her mother’s inaction and poor protection of her vulnerable heart. And as John Eldridge points out and we all know too vividly, the sorrows caused by those closest to us, with whom we were supposed to feel safe, are the deepest wounds of all:

What we learned from our parents and siblings about our heart defines us the rest of our days; it becomes the script we live out, for good or for ill.

So for my mother-in-law to “look for” those memories and moments with her mother does not mean a looking to the past…rather it means a recreation of her future, their future. To me, this motion in her life is a true murmuring of the movement of the Spirit:

As we learn to walk with God and hear his voice, he is able to bring up issues in our hearts that need speaking to (Waking the Dead).

And this movement, this Voice, is the most beautiful and glorious of all, because it is the essence of forgiveness. Forgiveness… to give completely. To grant forward. To offer renewal. To award tomorrow’s hope. In other words, to rewrite a story.

In my classroom hangs a painting which expresses one of the deepest and truest sentiments of my pedagogy…and heart:

Live your story; write your life.

Each word we speak, action we choose, relationship we build, mistake we commit, and bitterness we harbor becomes our story. And unfortunately we are not the only authors of those stories. Our family, our friends, our context also write their way into our stories–our lives–for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And sometimes it’s just much harder to turn the page, so to speak. How much easier to stay in this chapter, which though painful is comfortable, though toxic is known. In some warped sense of control and self-preservation, we believe reliving the same story over and over hurts less. Some even relish in memorizing and reciting passages from that devastating chapter, playing the martyr card so manipulatively.

But how much more daring, more freeing, more God-like, to turn the page and begin a new chapter. Write a new story. Forgive.

Mom, thank you for inspiring me to use the most glorious and bold and beautiful pen of all…grace. May your new story be one of love and light.

May all of ours.

 

Once Upon a Time in México

Living my dream of teaching, traveling, and discovering culture

Teach. Travel. Taste.

A peek into the life of an American teacher in Colombia

2seetheglobe

Adventures in Globetrotting

Meditating Millennial

A Millennial's Journey Into Meditation and Mindfulness

Nomad Notions

Tales of Expat Living, Teaching, and Tramping in Taiwan and Beyond.

Sojourners' Journal

“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people." —Albert Einstein

Middle East by Midwest

Observations and Experiences of Bahrain

Ex(pat) and the City

The life of a twenty-something Canadian living & teaching in Korea.

International Schools Review

ISR Blogs are open to site members and visitors alike. Your Voice Counts.

Teaching - Traveling - Learning

The Life of An International Teacher

Love Live Life....Abroad!

Follow me as I live, work, and travel abroad.........

pedagogyofthereformed

Teaching in Brooklyn in Spite of Everything

Actively Dying

by Peter Fall Ranger

DoYouYoga.com

Just another WordPress.com site

zen habits

writing into meaning.

Shambhala Blog

Books for enlightened living

Tiny Buddha

writing into meaning.

YogiApproved™

writing into meaning.

The Blissful Mind

Your guide to finding calm in the everyday

Practicing Presence

An attempt at mindfulness in life, learning, and love

Kindness Blog

Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations.

chanyado

Chanyado. Shade. Respite from the sun. A place under the tree to rest my head, and wiggle my toes out in the sun.

The Seeds 4 Life

Seeds of Inspiration, Wisdom, and Positivity

The Educationista

Life. Lessons. Inspiration.

Words Half Heard

writing into meaning.

infinite hope | the national equity project blog

Deliver on the promise of a quality education.

gadflyonthewallblog

"To sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."

Greatfull

A snapshot of my journey to living each day with gratitude and striving to be full of greatness

Imperfect Happiness

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~ Mary Oliver

tspelczech

"I'm too old to live my life in fear of dumb people." - Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom

Perfectly Pleased

I take the little moments of life and write about them. Always with Love.

Cultivate Clarity

creative writing and mindfulness-based coaching, workshops, and retreats

www.aholyexperience.com/

Just another WordPress.com site

Crawling Out of the Classroom

As I begin a year of transformation as a teacher, I am attempting to break down the four walls of my classroom to reach out to others and connect about the incredible world of education.

Trophy Kids

In Defense of the Generation

ADVENTURES ON THE YOGA MAT

writing into meaning.

Left Brain Buddha

the modern mindful life

Mom Voyage - Adventures of a Fulltime RV Mom

Just another WordPress.com site

AFFECTIVE LIVING

Teaching. Learning. Living.

Mostly True Stories of K. Renae P.

My Adventures in Teaching and Learning

synchroblog

diverse voices. monthly topics. good conversations.

Done with Religion

Written by Jim Gordon - Living with God Outside the Walls of Religion

candidkay

Taking the journey, bumps and all

jenny's lark

the beauty of an ordinary life

Nonlinear Compilations

Parenting, teaching, writing, and learning to find beauty in the present