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August 22 • Big Mouth

Day 775

I am feeling regret about a conversation I had with my dad a couple of days ago. The topic was about asking for forgiveness for our wrongs, whatever they may be, and what the church has taught us over the years. Dad, who is retired from a 50-year career as a minister, had recently heard a popular pastor preaching that we should never ask twice for forgiveness because the Bible teaches that all we have to do to be forgiven is ask. Once. That was the essence of it, wrapped around select Biblical verses and flowery oratory. That's what I reacted to with directness that was unintended.

I have no desire here to debate theology or doctrine. The power of God to forgive is without limits as far as I'm concerned, and I am not inclined to believe that we mere mortals have figured out the exceptions, rules, or restrictions under which the divine operates. All I'm rewinding on here is my earthly father's praise for a nicely packaged cliche by some guy that is likely wearing a too expensive suit from the far-away land of DoAs-ISay.

I will try to restrain my cynicism, mostly because I do believe such proclamations come from good hearts and true seekers of the Gospel message. Mostly.

My initial response was focused on too-often attempts by churches to give short answers to congregants who think that's what they want. In a best-case scenario, the effectiveness of short answers is limited to the already-convinced and those not currently struggling with serious problems in their lives. It's a form of cheerleading for the self-righteous, or at least it was for me. But the problems will come, and people need to be better prepared than what short promises can offer against the pain and the process.

Okay. Yada, yada, yada. Regardless of the value of my opinion or the accuracy of my interpretations, I would prefer to lean into humility in such moments. Instead, I talked about all the people that suffered in silence for too many years because their churches had no place, no grace, and certainly no answers for those broken by sex addiction. The same was true for alcoholics and various other addicts, but societal understandings have turned the fight against drugs of all kinds into a badge of courage and points for praise. Sexual addiction has not received such status and probably never will.

I think all of that and more was driving my reaction in this conversation. I think Dad is even given to forgetting my addiction, intentionally or otherwise, until I jump on my high horse to rail against some perceived slight from people without a clue, like most TV preachers.

I do have trouble keeping that cynicism in check. Sorry. Seriously.

I know Dad was not talking or even thinking about my situation with his innocent comment, but he apparently felt the sting of my darts. The next morning he sent me a text apologizing. In part, it read,

"I appreciated our conversation yesterday and wanted to let you know how much I agree with what you are doing about the issues you are dealing with. You caused me to reflect on the things I over-simplified from the gospel message during my preaching, especially in the early years... I thoroughly enjoyed our talk; I highly regard your strength to accomplish your goals. I love and appreciate you!!"

That was a powerful thing for me. I hate that I caused him to reflect through my negative reaction, and not because of the gentle demeanor of a man trying to be focused on his own weaknesses instead of trying to fix everyone else.

I responded to Dad's text with a safe and cutesy 💖, but I know I need to follow-up with words. These are not easy conversations for either one of us, and I wish they were more frequent. If I keep putting my family on their heels when they crack the door, it doesn't help either one of us or the prospect of more talks.



It looks like

Hard conversations that can feel like confrontation with people that you love

But a mindset that's stuck in the past

It looks like

–Rabbi Darkside, “Malala”



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