via Pascale de Groof on pinterest
I’ve been sitting with this idea for awhile. It’s one of those thoughts that is both profoundly obvious and deeply challenging. On both sides of the coin, people are not who you think they are.
But in my case, I’ve been holding this thought in terms of the woman who married my brother. Because, I don’t think good things about her, if I’m honest. I’ve not been given cause to.
Five years ago, my brother stopped talking to me. When I heard through the grapevine that they were pregnant and no-one told me (not my mother, not my brother) I was heartbroken. I have longed to be an Aunt — it’s one of those life long dreams. But when I found out that being excluded was payback. A way of getting even for the wrongs my brother felt I had committed against him: I became resolved.
So, I severed ties with my family. There were lots of reasons to do so. But, my main reason was that after long, painful conversations with our son (who didn’t understand why he was being ignored and left out of things) it became clear that I needed to take responsibility and protect my child. He didn’t deserve to get sucked into a toxic situation. He needed ME to make the hard decision: so that he didn’t have to!
Since my brother wasn’t talking to me — I wrote a letter to my mother. And that led to an avalanche of hate speech from the woman who married my brother. I expected it. I didn’t lash back. I get that, from the outside looking in, I seem like a complete bitch. A selfish person. In her eyes, I’ve committed untold sins against her. And, who knows, maybe I have! But to hear her tell it, I’m simply not worth the air I breathe. She’s a therapist: she would know.
But, if my friends were to read her description of me — they wouldn’t recognize me. Nor would the people at my church or any of the other circles of people I relate to on a daily basis. Why? Because I’m not who she thinks I am.
And she is not who I think she is.
Sure, lately, I haven’t had anything positive to reflect on. But I am certain that she is making a difference in her world. In the lives of the people who love her. In the life of her precious child. She is not who I think she is either.
This is the test, friends — the real test of the gospel. Can we call ourselves followers of Jesus but refuse to see others as Christ sees them?
I don’t think so.
So, I’m a failed human being — doing the best that I can. And all I can do, in this situation, is protect myself from the things that are hurtful (I don’t read her blog or twitter any more) and pray. I don’t expect that will solve things. I mean, I don’t even know what “solved” looks like. And I don’t think it will “mend” things either. Prayer doesn’t change other people, it changes you. No, I don’t want her in my life after the things she has said to me. But, that doesn’t mean she is worthless. It means I have to work harder to see her as Christ does.
She is not who I think she is. So I pray.
I pray that she will love every moment of mothering the child (ren??) she is blessed with. I pray that she and my brother will know a deep and genuine love for each other –that only grows with time. And I pray that she finds within herself the true and abiding knowledge that she is beloved of God: and THAT is enough.
I am not perfect. I am not there yet. But I am trying to remember: that even as people strike out at in fear and pain and anger and hate, they are not the sum of those actions. Ultimately, none of us can be boiled down to just one thing. Just one moment in time. Just one mistake or even just one success. We are so much more than that, we are children of God.
And, so this is what I’m working on these days. The soul work I’m doing. I can only hope that eventually God will make perfect, in all things, that which is broken.