Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Confessions: #3

An open letter to Ian, a kid from my first-grade class.

I hardly remember you. I never saw you after first grade, and I had almost forgotten you entirely by the third grade, when I started homeschooling. But a few years later I remembered, and those memories appall me even today.

I remember watching you cry. I remember making you cry. I remember enjoying it.

There were three of us in that first-grade class who were fleet of foot and mind: Alex L, Roger, and myself. You were not only a slow learner, but also overweight, and we teased you mercilessly for it. We taunted you in the playground during recess. If you tried to respond, we could turn your own insults against you; if you tried to catch us, we could outrun you. You were helpless.

Can you fathom how much this bothered me when I remembered this, in my fifth-grade Sunday school class? There was a time in the first grade when I had been a bully.

I never saw you after that year. Perhaps you moved, perhaps you found another school. I hope you recovered from us, but I'll never know. All I remember is that I had hurt you, and never had a chance to ask your forgiveness.

This note will not find you, so this apology is for my friends. Forgive me my sins against you, whether done knowingly or unknowingly. And to Ian, this is my penance for you: whenever I see another hurting, I would help them as though I were helping you. This is all I know to do.

Be strong in Christ,

I wish I could undo the past, but memory has made me who I am today. I am a better man because I remember and recoil from evil. This is no consolation for those whom I hurt, but the greatest consolation for me. God forgave my evil, and used it to teach me good. Glory to the King of Zion! How deep are the wounds of the Lion of Judah!

An open letter to several of my college friends:

I don't even know why I write this, but words seemed necessary. I hardly even know why our paths intersected so strongly, but then again, actions seemed necessary there. To reflect Him, in word and deed, may God bless our enterprises.

At the beginning of the quarter, each of you struggled. In your own ways, in your own time, you wandered in your faith, and foundered in your relationships. For some reason--God knows why--I was placed at a crisis point in your lives. I felt compelled to make myself known to you, to speak and pray and offer counsel. I hardly even knew myself in those moments; it felt as though I were not at the helm of my own heart and mind.

Is prophecy possible? For a man whose lips have been branded by coal from the altar, it is still possible to cry out "Here I am, Lord, send me"? For it was in those moments that I truly understood the prophetic voice, and that I made my own that 'voice in the wilderness crying.' I understand the typology of the moon: that the star which in the daylight of reason breeds confusion, sheds at night just enough light to guide our feet to safety. I spoke in a different tongue than I knew before, a dangerous tongue, only suited for times when hope has vanished.

Yet my voice produced fruit. Some of you I know quite well; others, I pray Heaven I knew better. But for those I knew, my counsel helped them find themselves and find God; it had rejuvenated them, in some sense.

You cannot comprehend the blessing I feel to have been a part of your lives. You cannot understand the tremendous relief it is, to be the one upon whom others put their burdens. I need help as much as others--perhaps, as I see now, more than others--but it is characteristic of my personality to desire to be that bulwark and support of others. You gave me a glimpse of what it is to have that desire fulfilled, and I will not soon forget it.

I know not how you will read my words, but I pray they find fertile soil in your spirit. Go with God,

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