Forgiveness time

Sigh. I’m exhausted from preparing for a mediation session tomorrow.

A white highly educated straight man new to the church community has remained apparently oblivious to racist and unkind remarks, gestures and communications that he has done in the last number of years. I spoke up about them after I’d been profoundly hurt. Now we are going to have a mediation session. I’m nervous about so many aspects of this conversation tomorrow. I was doing my homework, but I thought I’d write to YAR for encouragement since I can’t concentrate anyway.

I keep praying that I don’t get angry or try to make a point to make myself feel better/look better. Vengeance is not mine. I must entrust myself to the one who judges justly. But the balance is hard when I have to speak up for myself and for others who are still silent. I’m praying that no matter what happens, myself and others who have felt isolated and marginalized by his behavior will be able to move on and not let him control our lives at church.

One thing I thought about is to make sure I am clear about my objectives for this mediated conversation, state them in the mediation, and combining with his objectives to stay focused on these. These kind of discussions can go anywhere…I have experienced that he is also the philosopher type that wants you to prove everything/defend everything perfectly in order for it to make sense to him. I’ve painstakingly worked to back up every feeling with a broader concept, fact or another piece of antiracism theory.

What’s been a hard time for you all when you’ve had to share with someone who has been instrumental in silencing you or another group of people (esp. young people, poc, women, etc.)? How did YOU hold it together? Humility is a virtue here…I don’t know the whole story…honestly I’m excited to know where he is coming from. I pray I will feel better afterwards. I want this pit in my stomach to untie.

Comments (6)

  1. lukelm

    Blessings, ST. Your post made me think of some similar conversations I’ve gone into. They can be tough. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve strayed on the wrong side of exposing myself to too much pain without knowing whether the other person even cared or even knew. But if the conversation is trusted to God and to grace, and you pray for humility, then you can trust in its fruit, even though such fruit can be very long in growing.

    Reply
  2. JeremyY

    Perhaps the words of Menno Simons will help:

    “Again, our fortress is Christ, our defense is patience, our sword is the Word of God, and our victory is the sincere, firm, unfeigned faith in Jesus Christ. Spears and swords of iron we leave to those who, alas, consider human blood and swine’s blood of well nigh equal value…”

    “However lamentably we may here be persecuted, oppressed, smitten, robbed, burned at the stake, drowned in the water by Pharaoh and his cruel, unmerciful servants, yet soon shall come the day of our refreshing and all the tears shall be wiped from our eyes and we shall be arrayed in the white silken robes of righteousness, follow the Lamb…and possess the precious, pleasant land of eternal imperishable joy.”

    Blessings and traveling mercies, ST.

    Reply
  3. JeremyY

    ST,

    How did things go?

    JeremyY

    Reply
  4. ST (Post author)

    Things went well. The conversation was waaaaay longer than expected. Thank you all for your blessings and your words.

    Luckily, I had some resources on white supremacy and Internalized Racial Superiority to share, and he was very interested in those. Not to “fix” the situation, but to give more perspective and resources for both of our journeys.

    And he apologized for the different incidences over the last years. Just being able to articulate those and to hear his apology was very helpful.

    We talked through the major incident where there was disagreement…and explored what happened there a little more from both of our perspectives. That was good.

    We still don’t come out at the same place on a few issues, but we’re both okay and don’t need another conversation or anything. That’s a relief.

    Thanks again for your support.

    Reply
  5. Holly

    Sarah,

    I appreciated this post. Your vulnerability in both the situation you describe and the way you write about it is moving and inspiring. I’m just reading a David Augsburger book on forgiveness. He writes, “If we take Jesus’ concern for forgiveness as going to the brother or regaining the sister, then we will not reduce forgiveness to an attitude instead of an action,” and says restoring the relationship (which often means having the conversation) is a step that we often don’t include or get to in our common understanding of how to forgive, but that it’s central to the forgiveness that God calls us to. So good for you in daring to take that step. And glad to hear it went okay.

    Reply
  6. Progman

    Interesting topic. I try to live a more “walled off” life. Things that other people (except a select few) say and do don’t affect me much. I’m happy to have a conversation with anyone. I pick up the good things and bring them in and the bad things I just let them go.

    Reply

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