I have been a fool! -- 2 Corinthians 12:11
I woke up this morning groaning to myself about my confession of weakness in Bible Study last night. Why did I do that?! Now people will have a bad opinion of me. What I said was true, but I wish I had painted things a little better.
We had been discussing Psalm 119:33-40, which conveys a sense of the pilgrim journey we are on, learning God's way, and learning to forsake the vanities of life. I said that I have learned a lot about vanity over the years. I revealed that when we first moved back to Tucson, I wanted a house that would impress people. We had saved a lot of money while we lived in England. So, I felt we had moved up in the world. And, I wanted a house that reflected that. While I looked for a house that would satisfy the needs of our family, I also looked for a house that would impress. And I found it. I didn't care that it was slightly beyond our budget. We deserved it.
I was as proud of this house, and as vain about it, as it is possible to be about any thing one can buy. I defined myself as a person by this house. I also defined other people by their houses. If their house was nicer, I thought well of them; if their house wasn't, I felt pity for them.
Isn't this a terrible way to think? I know it is. I am embarrassed by my attitude back then. So, why did I make this confession? Why did I reveal such a character flaw to my friends at church? Especially since my attitude has changed. I learned the hard way that all that glitters is not gold. And I know personally how to "gain the world" and lose myself.
I feel great sympathy for Paul today. He was certainly embarrassed after revealing his weaknesses. Is that a foolish thing to do, dear Lord, reveal our weaknesses? Or does that lead people to see your glory all the more when we change -- like the man who was born blind so that God's glory would be revealed when he was healed by Jesus?
I wasn't the only one making confessions. Someone else said that he had a feeling of dislike towards a person he didn't even know, that that person's demeanor simply repelled him . He didn't fully understand why this was. He was aware of it, however, and was trying to sort through it.
Today, I read in Henri Nouwen's "Spiritual Direction," of his experiences living in a small community. He wrote, "In community we learn what it means to confess our weakness and to forgive each other.... Friendships gradually developed with all the members of the house. But these bonds of friendship were not without great cost. I had to face the cost of recognizing my own handicaps! I had always known they were there, but I had always been able to keep them out of sight. Self-confrontation was the hardest battle of all." (p.117)
Reflecting on these words, God's message to me is revealed. The pain of my confession is lessened. For the Wednesday night Bible Study consists of a group of people growing in friendship, and trust. We all value each others' unique contributions to the group, and treasure our weekly discussions of faith. This is the place where we gather in Jesus' name. And as Jesus says in this Sunday's gospel, Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be. This is a place where the love and forgiveness of Jesus is found.
God is found in our solitude. Jesus is found in our community.
Dear Lord, thank you so much for all you have given me. Especially, good friends with whom to share in your blessings. Love always, Pam