I was interacting with Ron Hollenbach on Twitter and in my effort to explain why I take issue with this post by Fleming Rutledge about Advent, I ended up realizing something pretty big for me.
Fleming Rutledge wrote, "When a culture of impunity is present human beings become bestial toward one another~that’s not an opinion; that’s a fact." She goes on to say, "Imagine a world without judgment. That’s impunity," and to basically imply that without impunity we'd all be doing atrocious acts of violence.
I just don't buy it. As I was trying to put this into words, I ended up tweeting,
"The problem is not our hearts; Our hearts are the solution."
And then I had that sensation that you get when you have one of those rare but wonderful "a-ha!" moments. The heavens open up. The hallelujah chorus. Rays of sunshine. The whole nine yards.
O.k. so maybe your thought is, "Duh..."
Or maybe it just feels so freaking-super-duper-significant in my funny little mind because of its uniquely goofy wiring and idiosyncrasies. And genius, of course. haha.
But either way, it's really, really BIG for me!
See...I grew up thinking...hang on...here comes a caveat...
(not because anyone intended to teach me this...I need to preface these "I grew up" statements because I am fully aware my own kids will grow up and say, "I grew up..." and I will say, "What the HELL??? That's the opposite of what I was saying, you dodo-head!" or something along those lines)
I grew up thinking that without Jesus' death, which covered over my sins and allowed him to come into my life in the form of the Holy Spirit, I was pretty much...well...SHIT. To put it simply.
Yes. I was shit. And there I was all stinky and nasty and needing to be picked up with a pooper-scooper and flung straight into...well...HELL.
But Jesus strong-armed the pooper-scooper out of God's hands, calmed him down (he really despises poop, you know, and was always itching to pitch me and all the other shit in the place he specifically, intentionally designed for shit since the beginning of creation...you know...he made us...then made a place to torture us...totally logical) and threw himself on the cross. When he died there, then came back to life, now God looked at me and saw....flowers. Or at least less stinky poop. Depends on the particular brand of theology you subscribe to. But anyway, I wasn't just plain old poop anymore.
And oh, that's a big "if." IF...I agreed with God, "Yes, God, I am stinky shit and I deserved to be thrown into hell, but thank you for sending Jesus to wrestle the pooper-scooper out of your hands and die on the cross so that you could get those awesome rose-colored glasses you wear now when you look at me."
You see, depending on what church it was, what pastor it was, or how well my ears had been cleaned (you never know where these ideas come from), I vacillated between thinking that God super-glued those rose-colored glasses on his face OR that I had been reconstituted from stinky shit into something different...pretty flowers, let's say. It was usually a funny melding of the two.
Either way, I was stinky shit without God. Either way, I was on the way to hell with all the other stinky shit, until Jesus saved me. And either way, now, on this side of agreeing to all the right things, I'm going to heaven when I die and I'm now capable of maybe possibly doing some good because now God is in me in the form of the Holy Spirit.
But here's the problem I've always had with this idea. That means, if you aren't a Christian, YOU, my lovely bloggy friend, are stinky shit. It's easy to think Sadaam Hussein is stinky shit or the guys raping women in Zimbabwe in the Advent post I am reacting to are stinky shit. But what about....your friend? Your spouse? The lovely, caring man at the nursing home who doesn't have to visit your elderly mother every day, but does anyway...who it turns out is Buddhist? The sweetest angel of a kindergarten teacher who it turns out is an atheist? And what do you do when Stinky-Shit-Atheist-Lady is nicer than you? Or what do you do when you find out your pastor was molesting little boys?
So this has been a really big problem for me. I just don't buy that we are all "desperately wicked," "evil" bastards that, given the opportunity, if no one were watching, would rape, kill, steal, maim and destroy everyone else.
But then people get raped, killed, stolen from, maimed and destroyed by people who it is way easier to just agree are "Stinky Shit." It's much more convenient to believe that if they just accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus, they would stop being Stinky Shit. It's a lot easier to think that their problem is being HUMAN.
But I'm human. And I don't rape or kill. Guess what? I just checked really thoroughly in my heart and...surprise! I don't even WANT to rape or kill! And here's the inconvenient truth...brace yourself...
I'm not a Christian.
So what to do now?
I'm being all snarky and sarcastic, but now I'm going to stop, sit down and let the tears flow.
How many years did I waste not feeling good enough? How many years did I waste feeling guilty because I clearly wasn't fully surrendered to Jesus if I wanted to make out with my boyfriend? How many years did I spend begging God to take all of me and reconstitute every little cell of me, no matter how long it took, or how painful it was, into who he wanted me to be?
My chest aches thinking about it. Why?
Because I was already who he wanted me to be.
Oh my that hurts.
So today, when I was finally able to say,
"The problem is not our hearts; Our hearts are the solution,"
It felt AMAZING. There it was. All simple and shiny and right.
The truth. What I've been trying to say. What my knowing inside has whispered my whole life.
It's not a removing of my shittiness.
It's not a reconstituting of my humanity.
It's not a covering up of God's eyes so he doesn't see the reality of my shittiness.
It's not a big giant holy fix-up job.
It's a looking into our hearts and finding...oh my goodness...LOVE.
It's looking into our hearts and NOT finding nasty black shit all over. It doesn't mean that we're perfect. It just means the "answer" is that our hearts are good, and the solution to EVERYTHING is already there.
It's a falling back into. It's a laying back in. It's a turning my head toward what I always desired anyway.
It's a, "It was there all along!"
It's a, "I knew it."
It's a, "I've always known it."
And then I can turn to YOU, because I know you are not stinky shit at all, I can look deep into your eyes and I can say,
"You are good. You are very, very good."