Monday, February 11, 2013

Thank God I am a Pacifist.

In the Fall of 2000, I began graduate school at the prestigious Emory University. I was embarking on my theological education. One of the course requirements was contextual education course which quite literally put us into the community to do good works (which we hashed out during the protestant reformation, but anywho.) Each week we went out and spent time with a buddy. This buddy by in large was very poor, very urban and very mentally challenged. For most of my classmates, this buddy was a child. I however, chose to be with an adult woman named Daisy. I had spent most of my ministerial work with youth and children at that point and hoped to spread my wings a bit. There are so many things I learned from Daisy, mostly about unconditional love, but I will save that for another day. Each week we were also assigned to read articles and as most higher education the task was to put these ancient texts into action in our present reality. The rub was that we were all experiencing different things and thus the philosophically problem of relativism was amongst us. We were all right, because our personal truth was connected to who we were at that moment; our personal subjectivity.

After weeks, we were suppose to receive criticism from our group members. Where we sat in a circle and people told you what they thought of you as a person based on a quarter semester of discussions. Sounds more offensive than it actually once in general. Ironically, I was offended. I was told in these discussion groups that I was a pacifist; that I was afraid of conflict. At that time, I found this deeply offensive. I had spent 3 years of undergraduate study in deep battles of theological value (or so I thought.)  Many late nights in the sunken lobby of
Allan Spivy turning red trying to prove the importance of general revelation or the relevance of divinity of Jesus to suddenly be told that I avoid conflict was appalling.

There are so many things that occurred in my life during my two years in graduate school. Some events were of great magnitude, and thus there are many moments that I do not remember. But I remember that one. For years, I have  wondered why that was their observation. Perhaps the group mistook my occasional silence as an apprehension to debate. On the other hand, perhaps their debate was so angry that when I spoke I only spoke of possibilities of reconciliation; the middle ground so to speak. I should have asked at the time but I didn't.
It was just recently that that conversation flashed before me and I was finally at peace with being considered peaceful. Thank God that I don’t naturally find anger in all things. Thank God that bringing people together is more important to me that dividing them. Thank God that I can be passionate about what I believe but somehow have the foresight to acknowledge others beliefs. Thank God. Every now and again, your greatest strength is even a surprise to you.

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