January 31, 2023

From the Rector…

The way I want to see the world, is not necessarily the way the world actually is—or probably even should be. I am a relatively positive person, but I come with a lot of judgment—not to condemn others but to try and help them be their best selves. That is not always (if ever) a positive trait of mine as it makes other people feel small around me—which is the exact opposite of how I want them to feel. Unfortunately, in almost 52 years of life, I haven’t figured out how to help people cultivate their best selves without offering some form of critique.

Just this morning, as Steve and I were getting ready for the day, he made a comment about coming home to change before going to the doctor. I asked him why he would change—a subtle form of criticism as it basically inferred that he was not to be trusted with a simple decision like what to wear to the doctor. He looked very nice in his work kakis and button down. In my mind, he needed to look nice when he went to the doctor as it would leave a better impression and thus he might warrant more respect and better treatment. And though, that may or may not be true, the reality is that Steve gets to wear whatever he wants to the doctor and Candice doesn’t get to judge that—no matter what her intentions might be.

Our faults can be so subtle. My critique of Steve did nothing to assuage any feelings of doubt or insecurity he might have around going to the doctor. Instead, at best I ticked him off and at worst I reinforced doubt. That is not how we encourage and lift one another up—it is how we tear one another and ourselves down. 

We think it’s the big things that do the most harm, but I tend to think it is really the little ones—the subtleties of life. The little comments here and there that are designed to destroy—whether they are meant to do so intentionally or unintentionally. We don’t kill one another with machine guns, we slice away little by little with daggers—or maybe even butter knives.

It is hard to correct our tendencies to criticize, or make others co-dependent, or fix one another. It is even harder for us to allow one another to make our own mistakes or trust that the other person might just be capable of something even if they do it different from the way we might do something. In part, that difficulty stems from not knowing ourselves—what triggers us, what our deepest desires and motivations are—why we approach the world the way we do. The other part of that challenge, is that we don’t trust God enough to allow his creation to work itself out in the way God intended. Instead, we put ourselves in the center of it all and spend way too much energy and time trying to control all the variables and all the outcomes.

Our job is to encourage and lift one another up: To laugh at stupid jokes and find the small joys in a world filled with pain. We are to bear the light of Christ and offer peace instead of an anxious presence. At the end of the day, we are to practice sacrificial love—giving up our resistance to one another and instead allowing others to flourish by our non-resistant presence among them. The risk, of course, is that things might not work out the way we desire them too. But the reward is that in approaching the world from a place of openness and allowing others to be who they are, we flourish and just might find that peace which passes all understanding that Jesus keeps telling us about.

Light and Life,