I’ve read that the blog on The Gospel Coalition which caused a huge controversy yesterday was taken down. I read that it was a mixture of apology and security, for the woman and her family, as well as for the reputation of TGC.
I am sorry that it got to that. I was a bit floored that TGC posted it in the first place. It didn’t seem edited. It didn’t seem thought out. It definitely didn’t seem well counseled or prayed over. It felt like reading someone’s diary, a diary which was still in the process of being written.
But it was honest. And much like someone walking into an AA meeting for the first time, she was rough around the edges and maybe not entirely sure what she was doing yet. Maybe we all wanted her to be further along than she was. Maybe we expected more – maybe too much – of TGC and its team of editors. Maybe we thought that because someone “published” something online (are we still thinking blogs are published just because that’s what the link says when we click it?) that they will be totally accurate, thoughtful, and helpful? Or maybe we just are so tired of people’s opinions, particularly the ones that rub against ours the wrong way. Maybe we just want people to stop talking altogether because we’re tired of the true confessions thing especially online.
Truth is though that what we did to that poor woman is EXACTLY what we are railing against her for. What we did was shut her down. What we did was label and vilify her for all the reasons we so desperately want her to confess to in her treatment of others, specifically her son-in-law and perhaps her own daughter. We pushed her around and heaped prejudice and graceLESSness on her head instead of just listening and carefully encouraging her to continue on her journey. Did we think she was celebrating that she arrived already and had nothing else to learn? Did we think that she was trying to put herself on a pedestal as an example of exactly what everyone should do? Maybe. Maybe she was, maybe she wasn’t. But isn’t what we did to her the flip side of the coin? Isn’t it assigning to her traits and characteristics stereotypical of “her kind?” Didn’t we just treat her exactly the way we don’t want to be treated?
I say we. I mean we. I was annoyed by her post. I was floored by her complete lack of the word “repent” in her piece. I stated as much publicly on a thread of comments that maybe I should have just refrained from. I repent. Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for jumping on her honesty and attempt to make sense of herself. I am always pushing people to be self aware and to wrestle with the things that make up who they are. But when someone does it and doesn’t quite get to a place I want them to be – a place I have predesigned in my mind that they should be – I get annoyed and condescending, falling in to the trap of labeling and belittling. Oh Lord, forgive me.
I wish I could tell Mrs. Clark that she is on the right track. I hope someone tells her. I hope that when someone admits to being wrong and admits to needing to change that I never jump on a bandwagon to point out all her flaws and shortcomings. I hope I am never on the receiving end of that. I pray that she knows God’s grace which never fails and never berates. Guilt berates. Shame berates. God’s Spirit convicts of sin, yes, but He also woos our troubled souls to repentance, the sweet gift that it is, and lays our hearts to rest in His provision, His covering for our sins – oh the many many sins from start to finish.
Then, I also wish I could exhort Mrs. Clark to know that what she is feeling now – I’m guessing – is just a glimpse into the life many people of color have felt. Marginalized, vilified. Our opinions squelched and demeaned. Our experiences belittled. Now she knows the hurt. Now she knows just a small taste of what it feels like to express what you have learned in life, the hardship and trial, only to be met with derision and disdain. I feel awful for her. I do. Because I know what it feels like. I know firsthand how it feels to have a group of people look at me and say I don’t know what I’m talking about. They said my experience can’t be totally true, or that I was reading into things and taking myself too seriously. I’ve been told I’m a racist. I’ve been told I don’t have a grip on reality. I’ve been told my experiences are warped in my head, that I should know better. These just a few of the things that people of color hear when they voice their opinions and try to convey their hearts.
It doesn’t make it justifiable, but now you know. Perhaps this is the next lesson God has you learning.