Posts Tagged ‘Sharks

27
Jun
09

Forgiveness, Evil’s Parasite

The University of Miami recently released a study comparing the hunting habits of the Great White shark to those of serial killers. This is not a surprise. In fact, I believe that this proves a long-standing hypothesis: sharks are pure evil. They are behemoth killing machines, not evolved or adapted since their beginning, meaning that they were perfectly created for their grisly existence. I contend that serial killers may share basal instincts with the shark, not the other way around.

I briefly stated my position on FaceBook and I was told “Ponder this…If you believe in true evil, you have no room for forgiveness.” I pondered this. I have spent a lot of time pondering forgiveness. I am forgiven. I have forgiven some dreadful things. I live with a man who is bi-polar. Forgiveness is a big part of my life and it is a big word. We throw it around fairly easily, but how often do we mean it? More importantly, how often do we genuinely seek it? When we throw out a hapless “I’m sorry,” do we really hope for forgiveness or are we sorry we are in the situation and we want it to stop?

As a Christian, I have to take a very honest look at what forgiveness means because my entire faith hinges on it. There is not a person on the planet God would not forgive, but we have to ask for it. It has to be different from saying “sorry” as though we bumped into God with a shopping cart at Target. When we seek forgiveness from God, it has be sincere, heartfelt, and indicative of a major willingness to change.

The same is true for seeking forgiveness from each other. We are not charged to forgive someone who is not asking us to. But when we are asked, that is the test. That is when we have to turn our backs on the past and step ahead, leaving the hurt somewhere on the road. There has been a misconception among us Christians, though, as we assume a need to forgive everyone who has wronged us. This dangerous misconception fills the Christian walk with potholes.

I turned an ankle in one of these potholes about a year ago. I had just begun to really grasp unconditional love as a matter of faith and I made this assumption that forgiveness is inherent in that. Enter the Bad Relative. This man exhibits deplorable behavior that only gets worse as he nears 70. He has done irreparable harm to our family and continues to do so. I was struggling with this, wondering how to forgive when I know that it only required my own heart to change. After careful study and a lot of prayer, I found an answer. If he is not recognizing a need for forgiveness and therefore does not seek it, I am under no obligation to forgive. I have to love him and have to treat him with the gentleness that comes with that, but to forgive implies a rebuilding of trust. It suggests a commitment to carry on a relationship despite the rifts of the past. It is impossible to forgive someone who does not understand he has behaved badly, or who will not admit responsibility for his actions. If this person feels no need to adjust his behavior going forward, it is not possible to carry on a relationship washed in forgiveness.

Contrary to my Facebook challenger’s contention, I do believe in evil just as much as I believe in forgiveness. Evil is evident throughout history and the world. I witnessed evil at the mall today (nobody should wear shorts and high-heeled boots, please stop so I can forgive you). Evil is the feeding tube keeping forgiveness alive. Without it, forgiveness would be obsolete. We may live in a shallow existence where shopping cart bumps are quickly brushed aside, but without evil, we could not appreciate the sacrifice involved in overcoming it. And sacrifice is the greatest expression of unconditional love.

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06
Dec
08

Circling With the Sharks

sharks1From time to time when I take a shower, something triggers a thought of a great white shark and I am paralyzed – truly paralyzed – with fear.  This fear is something I have carried since I was a small child.  It kept me from learning to swim, from hanging out at the lake with my friends, and from spending summers diving into our local river.  It kept me from swimming pools, water slides, and has provided some interesting ocean memories.  At Sea World, my friends thought it would help if I visited the shark aquarium.  I passed out and spent the afternoon at the medic station.  No Shamu for me.

This has followed me into adulthood, on a trip to Mexico, and into my downstairs bathroom that I painted a beautiful blue and therefore, avoid.  I think it’s the bathroom that pushed me over the edge.  It’s gorgeous, copied from a Pottery Barn catalog, and I really love it.  Being unable to use it because of a childish fear seemed a little ridiculous.  Well, according to my husband, it was way ridiculous.  Shark Week came on the Discovery Channel and he thought it would be healthy if I watched it.  Not so healthy when he had to stay in the bathroom to keep me occupied while I showered (totally G rated, it just sounded bad).

So I considered my blue bathroom.  And Shark Week.  And I wondered how in the world I could be this frightened at this point in my life. 

I caught myself.

I became suspicious that this fear had disappeared a long time ago; I was just holding onto it like an old letter jacket.  A piece of what I was then.  This was a piece of my identity that really didn’t matter any more, except to me.  Fearing great fish defined me, but only in my own imagination. 

So, we visited an aquarium.  I tested my theory and was dismayed to find that it must have been correct because walking through a school of swimming sharks was surprisingly easy.  Beautiful, in fact, and somewhat surreal.  Of course, this was after my screams drew a crowd when I caught a foot on the conveyor belt and thought I was being hauled off as dinner – baby steps.

What else do we wear around like old letter jackets?  Things that don’t matter at all to life today, but define our perception.  In my first post I taked about all those feelings I carried for George and Lou.  I’m pretty sure they were swimming with the sharks in my shower, defining me in most unflattering terms.  Letting go of my fears and my loves had a lot less to do with the sharks than it had to do with letting go of a me that has been gone for a very long time.  Youth’s promise is so majestic.  It is built on the reckless hope that rests so precariously on romance.  All the recklessness is tempered by apprehension.  That promise is powerful.  That promise honed by recklessness and apprehension is intoxicating.  As such, it is so hard to let go but if we hang on, the sharks are circling and eventually they just may close in.




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