This blog is going to be a little different from my last few. I'm writing today not to inspire you to make different consumer choices, or to talk about injustice facts, but to confess. I've come to the conclusion lately, that I need to re-assess how I treat people and engage in conversations with them. Two things led me to this conclusion. First, I'm currently reading Donald Miller's new book "scary Close", which is a great book about intimacy and how we can only gain true intimacy by living with integrity. It talks a lot about healthy people and unhealthy people, and how unhealthy people manipulate others to get what they want, and it keeps them from intimacy. Secondly, over the Easter weekend I got into a debate with my dad about something I felt very passionately about, and in the heat of the argument I made a statement, with no explanation, which automatically put walls up. There was a lot of anger and tears and the debate stopped immediately.
These two things got me thinking - I talk a lot about justice and treating people with dignity, and I find it easy to do when it comes to the marginalized, but my actions towards the people in my life, the ones I know the best, often do not mirror these values. When my husband and I argue, I often play the victim, manipulating the situation so that he'll do whatever it is I want out of guilt. It sounds horrible when I write it out, and I don't do it consciously, but I definitely do it. But that is not treating my husband with dignity and respect, nor is it conducive to a deep, right relationship.
"Justice is what love looks like in public." (Cornell West) I agree with this quote completely, but sometimes I think it's harder doing justice in private. It's easy for me to avoid certain brands I know aren't respectful of their workers, it's easy for me to volunteer for a good cause, or give to a charity who is doing great things. What I find difficult is respecting and loving those closest to me when I don't agree with what they're saying or doing, or when they've hurt me. Suddenly my definition of justice gets distorted and becomes about being right and getting the respect I deserve, rather than being in right relationships, and giving the respect and love others deserve.
This realization saddens me a little because, like I said, it's easy to change a consumer habit - inconvenient, maybe, but really not very hard. Changing how you react when you're hurt or frustrated, that's a little more challenging. Deciding to treat others with dignity when they're doing or saying something you think is wrong takes a lot of work, self-reflection, and a lot of intervention on God's part.
I don't know how to change my tendency to re-define justice when I get emotional, but I know it needs to change. And that's the first step - right?
I've always been an emotional person, and I don't think emotions are bad, but I do need to learn how to control them, so that they don't control me. It'll be hard work, and not something I can change easily or quickly. "But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) I am a new creation in Him, and He will continue the good work He started in me until He returns.
There is hope for my hardened heart yet.