“You are dust and to dust you shall return, repent and believe in the gospel.”
Wednesday was my first time kneeling and receiving ashes on my forehead, and I felt an unexpected prickle of tears in my eyes to hear the words of the benediction spoken over me. I felt like staying there, knees to the floor, and letting some of the tears fall freely, but instead got up to make space for the next person who was coming forward to kneel down.
I am not given much to thinking about my personal sins and failings. I know that I have them, I just don’t usually give them the space and attention they deserve.
You see, I really like thinking that I am Right, and sometimes I am smacked in the face with the deeper repercussions of this mentality.
Last November, we were talking to my brother Michael on FaceTime and he asked what the biggest change had been since we got married. Without thinking I blurted out, “I don’t get to be right all the time!”
Michael had a long laugh when I said that. Upon reflection, I think that growing up as the only girl in my family meant that I got to think that I was Right more often then was good for me.
Wanting to be Right also leads me to a deeper problem, it makes it hard for me to apologize. And in this Lenten season our church is encouraging all of us to look closely at places where The Church has hurt people and where we all need to ask for forgiveness.
It’s a series called Forgive Us, and each week our Sunday services (and other programs) will be focusing on an area where The Church has participated in systemic wrong or abuse against a group of people. Together as a church community, we will repent for our judgementalism, our racism, our sins against the LGBTQ community, our sins against women, our odd conflict with science, and our sins against those who do not share our faith.
This promises to be challenging, exciting and a little bit terrifying, just as it is every time I have had to say the vulnerable phrase “I was wrong and I am sorry.”
But I also feel a pull to share about this publicly. As someone who is not good at admitting wrong in front of others, and as someone who likes to have it all together, I think it will be good for me to own my part in the process.
If you care to come along, I will be attempting to write about the Forgive Us series weekly here.
And if you identify as someone who has been hurt by The Church, then please know that I’m ready to listen. It sounds really silly to say that, but I don't think I've ever said it publicly before, so there you go... I may not have the right apology or answer for all that has happened to you, but I’m ready to say that I haven’t been Right, there’s only one person who can claim that position. I’m just trying to follow Him into This Love, which was raw and real and bleeding.