We were eating dinner at the neighborhood clubhouse across the street from my house and listening to a friendly police officer talk about neighborhood watch, when Amber looked at the scars on my knees, both the old one – six weeks old – and the new one – two weeks old. She said, “I’ve got scars five years old that aren’t as smooth as that.” I pointed to my left knee and said, “The curious thing is, I am almost 60 years old, and it takes all my willpower to keep from picking the scabs off this scar. Why am I still addicted to such a childish thing?”
Scabs are an important protective mechanism used by the body to prevent bleeding and infection (and deserve a nobler name). We should leave them alone. Especially as adults. And yet, we don’t.
And even worse, our tendency to pick isn’t limited to physical wounds. During the past two months we’ve had controversial and painful changes in our church. This is the church we’ve attended for 33 years, that helped us raise two children, and comforted and nursed our family through multiple layoffs and crises. The changes left a lot of people hurt, feeling removed and unappreciated. Our church is now in the process of navigating through the debris field, and we have a long way to go before we’re clear.
I’m in a unique position since I serve on the church governing council. It gives me insight into the process and background of the controversial decisions, yet I’m not part of the committees that actually had to make those decisions so I still have a thin layer of separation. As a result, I get lots of questions from friends who want my thoughts about the situation. I’m happy to help.
In addition to the questions, I get emails from well-meaning church members who see conspiracy and manipulation behind every decision, and now are standing on the ramparts at full-alert watching for the next bit of news that might confirm their theory.
The fact is, and it is a fact that is hard to accept and understand, but good people who seek God daily, who have dedicated themselves to serve others and live in grace and love, often end up on the opposite sides of decisions. How can that be? Shouldn’t godly people think alike?
But often, they don’t.
Why can’t we disagree without assuming the other side is deceived, or worse, possessed by evil?
It takes constant vigilance to avoid becoming a cynic; cynicism is simply too easy. Cynics seldom solve problems. They might point them out, but that is never as helpful and they think. Being a cynic is nothing but lazy thinking. It requires no faith, no imagination, and no trust to talk about the worst of the worst.
So this morning as I read yet another scary email about the underhanded things afoot, I thought about my left knee.
I decided to stop picking scabs. I vowed to let healing occur, stop picking and poking and pressing, and let Jesus heal my knees, and heal my church, in His own good time.
I don’t mean to belittle the pain we’ve all felt, or underestimate the loss and hurt we’ll live with going forward. I don’t mean to say I’m completely comfortable with all the decisions that have been made (to be truthful, I’m not comfortable with many of my own decisions, especially during my twelve years as an elected member of city government).
But all I have to do is walk down the hall with my cane to remember that healing takes a long time. Maybe years. And not all healing is complete. Sometimes we move with a limp even after all the scars are gone. There is nothing easy about healing deep wounds.
But I want to live the rest of my life allowing people and churches and knees to heal. I want Jesus to show me patience through the debris, give me hope for clear sailing ahead, and the wisdom to spread that to everyone around me. I hope and pray that will be your life as well.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32