Monday, February 28, 2011

If I Loved

This is the first step of a new project, I hope it connects:

Cripples, the blind, homeless mothers… yeah, I’ve walked past them. Street kids, war orphans, refugees and sick babies… yup, I’ve ignored em. Crazy street people, naked wanderers, and the shit covered destitute… sure, they’ve made their way to my rearview mirror. Those with seeping flesh wounds, rancid with AIDS, or missing limbs begging on the side of the road… them too. My confession… I suck at loving.

It’s not that I’m not very good at loving others, as if I maintained some broken functionality. Nope, I’m downright lousy at it. My mom, my sisters, and some of my brothers possess this broken functionality - not me.

I don’t always walk past, but at one point or another I’ve walked past them all. I’d like to say the time spent touching, talking to, and praying for those in an African AIDS hospice; the street kids I’ve fed and walked with; the homeless and the sick I’ve given money to; the operations I’ve paid for; the hands I’ve held; smiles I’ve given; heads I’ve touched; tears I’ve shared; and prayers I’ve prayed balance out against my failures. Perhaps the good done soften the blows of those left undone. But these are self-centered thoughts; they focus on my value and feelings. Ironically, defending or nullifying my failure based on my success only serves to condemn me more. I can’t claim ignorance, only indifference. I know the ting to do and yet…I still fail.

Dwelling on past failures isn’t the point. Neither is this an exercise in lowering self-esteem. Building up guilt and shame, so as to “do better” in the future or get God to like me more, is an empty and destructive endeavor as well. No, this is something different.

This is a confession of brokenness – my brokenness. My success in loving others doesn’t mitigate my overwhelming failure; rather, my failure proves my success exceptional. My failure builds the walls that echo the whispers of a divine standard, a standard straining to make itself known. This standard is alien to my nature, yet it resides in passing moments of my life. The surprise is not that I love others so poorly; no, the surprise is I love others at all.

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