Growing up as a Catholic, I don't have the best repertoire of Bible verses ready to soothe or inspire the soul at any given moment. I have a great understanding of the general concepts presented but lack the....to put it in terms of writing a formal research paper....bibliography to prove my thoughts, ideas and beliefs.
But I do remember one:
Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.
I am painfully aware of my shortcomings and my failings as a human living on this Earth. I know that I do not always speak with the kindest of words, make the best decision with everyone else in mind, I often speak before I think and sometimes the words that I DON'T say aren't kind in nature either. It is plainly stated throughout the Bible that there is one true and just Judge and I'll fill you in on a little secret.........IT AIN'T ME.
My sins are no better and no worse than anyone else on this planet.
So here's my quandary - where does a person draw the line? At what point does someone, who just by the nature of being human, is a sinner report on the "sins" of another person. By alerting the proper authorities to the negative behaviors of a peer, am I saying that I am without sin and therefore trying to cast the proverbial first stone?
Through the Bible Study of 1 Peter that I participated in this spring, I delved deeply into submission and suffering - which oftentimes go hand in hand. The idea of suffering is no stranger to me but I didn't struggle with that subject. I know that suffering is part of life but I also have suffered enough to understand that there is always good that comes from the bad. As the only saying goes - the sun always rises. There is always a greater purpose and as the eternal optimist that I strive to be, I constantly keep an eye on the silver lining in any given situation. How can I become a better person through this struggle and strife? What lesson can I learn and apply to future situations as well as people who are struggling around me?
But the submission section, particularly the submitting to authority when the authority isn't what you consider "just" or even "qualified" is where I struggle. Is it prideful of me to believe that I could do a better job leading? Am I reporting a poor leader with the most honest of intentions? Peter states that we are to be subject to those in power above us because in doing so, we are being submissive to God the Father who placed those people in those positions of authority over us. As my Bible Study leader so aptly put it - respect the position even when you find it difficult to respect the person.
On the larger scale, I have no problem or personal issue with accepting a president as the leader of our country despite the fact that I might have differing political views. I am an active citizen who believes in making my voice heard during the election year and if the results don't sway in my favor, I am disappointed but my job as a citizen is also to accept, respect and pray for the president of my country. But on the other hand, when the authority figure is close by and their lack of leadership impacts your daily life, at what point do you stop being submissive to the position and begin voicing your opinion of dissent? Who am I to judge that the manner in which I conduct myself in my day to day life is any better than another person?
In essence, where is that illusive line in the sand? Where does one finally say that enough is enough and things have crossed the line and it's my time to do or say something? There is a reason that the proverbial "line" isn't drawn on the concrete, on hardwood or any other solid surface - life isn't that cut and dry or that black and white. People, feelings, situations, circumstances........it's all constantly changing, morphing, growing and shrinking. What was so seemingly set in stone yesterday has drifted away this morning and transformed into a new beast to deal with and conquer.
I don't believe that when Peter was writing to the exiles in Biblical times that he was demanding that they forever shut their mouths and accept whatever leadership was in charge. As with everything in life, there is an appropriate time and place for healthy discussion and dissenting voices to be heard. Through copious amounts of prayer, reflection and conferring with trusted advisers, I know that now is the time for me to speak up. I pray that I will use my voice to convey concern, respect, truthfulness and above all - dignity for all parties involved.
And above all, I believe this is about intent. After quite a bit of soul searching, I believe in my intentions. I believe that I want the best for everyone.....although the definition of "best" might be different of some. I know that God has drawn me to and through this struggle for a reason - one that I haven't fully realized yet - but that I will become a stronger person as a result.