Virtuous Attempts Jun15


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Virtuous Attempts

There are many things about the Christian life that I grow more uneasy with and sometimes disgusted by as the number of days between the present and when I once believed grow.  However, every once in a while I catch a glimpse of something I truly miss.  I read a Facebook post by Shane Claiborne tonight honoring a mentor of his who had passed.  He told about leaving a photo of him smiling on the screen at a place where he was speaking.  There is something in that heartfelt honor of another human life that doesn’t come off as hokey or over-sentimental, but rather truly warm and genuine that I miss.  This isn’t something that one can just muster up when the moment calls for it… I believe it is something that is fostered and pruned in our lives.  The genuine respect and high regard for humanity.  I want to be able to do this.  I think it will involve not being as cynical as I am sometimes about other people.  When I was a Christian I had a reason not to judge people, namely that we had ALL fallen short of absolute perfection and should all be counted as equally ‘sinful’, but now I find myself judging people slightly more liberally.  I want to have a deep love for people that is not born out of religious obligation or that is manufactured, but that is real… that is felt as well as validated by actions.

Now that I am out of church work and in the business place I find it a lot harder not to judge.  In the church world I had free reign to offer grace in the face of inefficient and lazy people.  That is not to say that grace was practiced freely, but rather that upon offering it I would rarely get corrected for doing so.  However in the business world I am finding that a person’s inefficiency and laziness impacts others negatively to a greater degree and can even threaten the livelihood of a business and consequently the employees.  I want to learn the fine line between judging and holding people accountable to having their shit together.

Living in a world where there aren’t as many absolutes as I once thought there were, I am realizing that things like humility and grace are less principle and science and more art.  Sometimes art flows out of a heart that has a fervent appetite to create, but sometimes the appetite has run dry and the the false starts of a painting or poem prime it back to its arduous desire to pour out its volume on paper or canvas.  It is fluid.  Where a kind word or intentional bypassing of recognition might work in one instance it doesn’t in another.  Sometimes the harsh contrast of color or an abrupt awakening in a poem may be ugly if seen in isolation, but is needed for the whole to be something beautiful.

At the end of the day though, there are gonna be those false-starts of humility and grace where things just don’t come out right and I wish I had an eraser or a new canvas.  Where words that were meant for good turn out to be presumptuous or offensive.  Where we try to do the right thing and it just comes out all wrong.   It is then, in those moments, that we should reserve some grace for ourselves. For the best artists have piles of attempted masterpieces and waste cans of crumpled words that serve as the seed bed from which their art is born… but only when there is resolve to push forward.