by Sandra Weingart
I do a lot of writing in my job and have, over the years, developed a distinct distaste for one of the most prominent features of academic prose. Way back in the day, somebody decided that it is inappropriate for authors—especially in the scientific disciplines—to have an active voice in the reporting of their experiments, observations, and discussion. In order to preserve an air of neutrality, the passive voice was assumed [doesn’t that sound absurd?]. Things happen, rather than people making them happen. Blecch! It is appropriate sometimes, but I am usually quick to scratch it out when I’m editing for someone else or revising my own work.
We live our baptismal journeys in the active voice as well. A faithful life is not one in which we never feel doubt or have awkward questions; it is a life in which we engage with those questions and carry out God’s commandments despite our doubts. A hopeful life is not one in which we ignore our own troubles or those of the world around us; it is a life where we hold fast to the knowledge that God wants good things for us, is with us in the worst parts of our lives (even if we don’t feel it at the time), and will welcome us home in the end. A loving life is not one in which we always are happy and comfortable with our families, friends, and neighbors, nor they with us; it is a life in which we choose to act for the good of each other because we know that we and they are God’s beloved children.
I often think about that last part in connection with Jesus’ commandment that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If a neutral person observed your behavior, would they conclude that you love yourself? Are you patient, kind, and forgiving to the child of God who is you? Do you nourish your body and your soul with healthful food, appropriate rest, and habits that allow you to participate fully in the world? Or do you condemn yourself for past mistakes and tell yourself that you will always keep making them? Do you cling to old hurts because at least they are familiar and you don’t know with what you might replace them? Do you fight to keep a sense of unworthiness stuffed someplace hidden deep inside?
How would things be different if you could look at every unlovely part of your life and stop fighting yourself over them? Can you say “yes, I did that and it turned out badly” or “I really do care about this situation and it hurts that I can’t change what happened” and then look at yourself through the eyes of God and see that you are loved, not despite who you are, but because of who you are?
I encourage you (and me!) to take these ideas out for a spin. I suspect that all of us would like to be better at loving our neighbors and our world and practice is how we develop our skills. So practice loving yourself as we near the end of the church year and start preparing to open yourself to the Love that comes to us through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.