Friday, April 22, 2011

Why it is good...

A few months ago, a Facebook friend acted like a troll. He came over to my page to insult both me and my Christianity. I allowed it to stand and didn't react with the vitriol I was tempted to, much to the amusement of my friends out in the real world. "Better you than me," one said. I was tempted to drop him, of course, but I won't do that except in extreme cases (and haven't yet). I'd rather interact. I'm probably the only person of faith this person actually engages with, so I tolerate the periodic pettiness because, honestly, aren't we all petty on occasion? From all I can tell, he surrounds himself with people who agree with him and so his world seems pretty narrow. Though I know I drive him crazy, it seems he's willing to put up with me, too. I can't begin to imagine why. I'm his "diversity" maybe, so I'll stick it out. We're tolerating each other.

Another friend and I disagree radically on several fundamentals. We have a nodding recognition that we'll probably never come to common ground on those few things, so we simply don't discuss them. I post my pro and anti pages and she politely does not comment. She posts her polar opposite pro and anti pages and I politely do not comment. I read a few of hers and think, "How sad this all is." She very likely does the same. We peacefully coexist until we come across common ground, then boy howdy can we go to town on each other's comments. We are waiting for those moments when we agree so that we can pick each others' brains and spur each other on. I enjoy those times because I really and truly love the way she thinks. I forgive her as she forgives me, for being different. I just love that about her, almost as much as I love her.

My sister taught me this skill, by the way, in case you think I am some sort of saintly, tolerant woman. I'm not. I'm a pain in most every one's behind really (most especially my own). My sister can attest to what an obnoxious, opinionated person I am naturally. She bore the brunt of my bluntness for years with a patience I can only admire. I have studied her. I have watched her exist, relatively peacefully, in a world that disagrees with nearly every cherished belief she holds. I have seen her temper flare up in her eyes, only to be expressed by a raising of the eyebrows and a slight cooling of her natural warmth. I have always wanted that.

Good, God! WHY?!
With all that in mind, I will answer on Good Friday this accusation of a question on why Christians hold up the Cross as a cherished symbol. "It's like Jews worshiping Auschwitz!" that certain somebody accused, offending me and two wide swaths of humanity in the same careless analogy. In swallowing my anger, I had my answer, "Because it gives me the strength to bear you." The cross means that suffering has a higher purpose. You suffering with me and me suffering with you is a good thing. I'd give up my life for that, for you, in a minute. At least I hope I would, if called to. In the meantime I'll be giving up my anger instead. It's practice. We Catholics call it "dying to self." It's a type of martyrdom that isn't much admired in the world, but some of the most admirable people I know practice it.

I'm working on it. In the meantime, God Himself thought we were worth dying for and I agree, even if I'm only called to "die to self" for you.

So there.


  1. ...and of course we don't worship the crucifix or even the crucifixion. We worship God, and the crucifix reminds us of His love for us.

    To build on your friend's flawed analogy, it's more like a Jew keeping a picture of his uncle who took his place at Auschwitz.

    Now that doesn't sound so absurd, does it?