Monday, March 30, 2009

Wisdom from unorthodox sources - Part 2

Lent is mainly a time of introspection - a consideration of our sins and Christ's sacrifice. I once had a friend who would attend church with me but refused to recite the confession because he said it focused too much on what a bad person he was, when he thought of himself as a basically good person. In my opinion, though, it's liberating to confess that we are imperfect (and some people will no doubt chuckle at that, knowing what a perfectionist I am). To me, the Ash Wednesday confession in particular ("by my own most grievous fault") is both beautiful poetry and reassuring in the knowledge that we are forgiven.

But to forgive and love, and to do either of them unconditionally, is basically beyond our human abilities. My dad, who teaches in NDSU's Department of Education, points out to his pupils that it's very easy to love all your students in the abstract. It's much harder to love the student standing in front of you - even when he or she is being difficult or disagrees with you or even just comes from a different background, perspective, or lifestyle that you don't understand and can't relate to.

So today's unorthodox source is about forgiveness and love: the song "I Don't" by Danielle Peck. If you're not familiar with it, you can hear her sing the basic version, but I'm talking here mostly about its dance mix version, which I can't find on a free site online. The dance version has a strong disco-style beat that makes the beginning feel a lot like "I Will Survive" - basically your standard post-break-up anthem:

"You say you're doin' better
For your sake I hope it's true
I wish you well
But that's all that I can do
Save your 'I'm sorry's'
Just leave 'em at the door
You can't make me feel guilty anymore."

But it's the chorus of this song that has the punchline. To forgive is divine. We are saved through God's forgiveness, even when confessions and apologies cannot bring forgiveness from our friends, neighbors, and loved ones:

"You say I should stay with you
That Jesus forgives you
You pray I will, but I won't
The difference is
Jesus loves you,
I don't."

I can't help it; the chorus makes me laugh every time I hear it. We can all relate to the singer's anger, can't we? But Jesus loves and forgives us all (even those people we can't bring ourselves to forgive and love). That's good wisdom, even if it comes from the dance mix of a country song.


  1. She can forgive him, but that doesn't mean she has to love him anymore! I hope the guy finds comfort in Jesus' love and forgiveness, I hope she eventually finds Mr Right, and I'm glad we don't sing much country music in church!

    About an hour ago I prayed so hard for my son Joe, who is going through a difficult time. I miss him very much and feel very helpless that I can't fix things for him. I prayed that God would place Joe before someone in whom the Holy Spirit lives, and with the love of God in their heart would comfort him and give him the help, direction, and confidence he needs.

    When that poor, whiny, country girl in the video walked into church, I saw the statue of St. Theresa to her left. My mother prayed nine-day novenas to her frequently. My mother said that St Theresa's sign that prayers would be answered is the appearance of a rose. My sister Andi and I may not make the nine-day novena,(we are both a lot busier than my mom ever was!!) but we both still are in awe sometimes when a rose does appear in the most unusual places. When I saw St. Theresa just now in the video, it made me think of my mother, who I know from her place in heaven will be with Joe today.

    This is how God works in my life.

    Thanks for posting that!



  2. I will also contribute that in the Lakota language, children are called "wakanheza," which means (approximately) sacred being. I challenge my students to see the sacred in all their future students, and possibly extend that to all others, as I think Jesus suggests that we are all "neighbors." Until a Lakota knows who you are, he may greet you as "Hankishi," which means cousin. How many of us see all people in the world as our cousins? Dad

  3. Rev. Robert FerroApril 1, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    C.S. Lewis writes somewhere (maybe it's in "Mere Christianity", but the exact reference escapes me) that if we could see people now the way they will be in the life to come we would fall down and worship them. We have no idea of the beauty and glory that we all carry within us. It is hidden from us. Maybe the story of the man and woman in the garden point us to that direction, after being separated from God, the glory became hidden, so then all they saw was their "nakedness", and they weren't too thrilled with what they saw, so they wanted to cover up. Humun sin blinds us to the beauty and glory that is still there, but will only be revealed in the life to come.