Shame, and Pride
I met someone the other day. Sometimes I go where she works and she had helped me once before, but that time it was just a transaction. This time we started talking and it wasn’t long before we were engaged in rich conversation. Somehow it came out that I am a Christian, and she is too.
She told me how hard it had been to find a church lately, and that she had been hurt by her church years ago. At the time, she was married with school-aged children and tragedy turned her world upside down. Her husband took his own life. It had been years, but her voice revealed how much it still hurt.
Even that painful admission couldn’t prepare me for what she said next.
After navigating the early days of the terrible loss, she sent her children back to school, which was run by the church the family attended. On that first day back one of her children’s teachers taught a lesson on why those who commit suicide go to hell.
I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I stared at her with my mouth open before finally mustering, “that’s awful.” I had a depth of response that is hard to explain. I felt sad, and angry, and to be honest, ashamed. I felt ashamed that a fellow Christ-follower could do something so outrageous.
I wanted to apologize. In a situation that begged for grace, this teacher had cast judgment and embarrassment on a child who was still reeling from the death of a parent. It’s brutal. I found myself wanting to distance myself from this person who believes in the same cross-bearing, life-giving God that I do. I couldn’t make sense of it (then again, can I make sense of the sins I commit?).
As I drove home and reflected on this long talk I realized something. I was hit by a deep sense of gratitude for CSC that has nothing to do with being its leader or an employee or a donor. I was proud that this is what Christians do. CSC is a group of people who take in children who are hurting and alone and give them a second chance at life and family. There is something about CSC that transmits God’s love in profound, consuming and vivid ways. At the very root of all this is devotion to Christ--to doing what would please him. I love that one response to following Christ is this sacred work at CSC.
What we’re doing here, you and I, and all who care, is something to be proud of…if I dare say so myself.