Matthew 18: 15 to 20 “If your brother (sister) sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
In chatting with a friend the other day a strong reminder of this bit o’scriptural advice came up in our conversation. We are fine, we just have deep conversations sometimes.
Situations where we’re offended, hurt, angry, upset whatever, happen often enough that keeping this in mind becomes necessary. Often what happens is that the grievance is made public rather than being kept private. Yeah I’m going there. What breaks my heart is when something that should remain private is made public. I’ve done it, I’ve watched others do it. I know in myself and I see around what we’re looking for: support that I’m not really wrong, that I’ve handled this correctly or not done anything wrong. It’s possible that I did and it’s possible that I didn’t. However I need to be open to the possibility that I did commit some offense and be willing to repair it when possible.
Whether I committed the offense or was in someway offended, the first and most important thing is to deal with it one on one. With kindness and respect. When kindness and respect are removed the offense can deepen making the situation nearly impossible to repair. The scripture goes on to show what the next and next step should be and as a general rule the public forum is not the place for said offenses. When offenses become public the pathway to healing and reconciliation becomes much more challenging as we’re told that the other person is wrong and we’re the best thing since sliced cheese and our poop don’t stink. There may be a time and place for grievances to be aired publicly but it’s a long way out from the very beginning.
I, personally, have become very careful airing grievances, even about large companies that I use to ship my quilts. This public airing of grievances often does no good. (Yes there are times that making grievances public is very helpful however it’s a last resort) I have a few friends who are honest with me and will tell me if I’m being a total twit. I have asked them to let me know when/that I’m being a total twit essentially permission has been given to smack me upside the head. They would. Verbally.
And yes, I acknowledge that sometimes the grievance can not be reconciled even before a one to one conversation. it’s gut-wrenching when this happens that’s for sure. It’s still not to be public.
This rings so true in the quilting community. Kindness and mercy are called for. Kindness and mercy in our posting and kindness in our dealings with others. There is no way of getting around that some offenses happen. Kindness and mercy and scripture require a level of privacy and intimacy that will go beyond the norm.
I know I’m not perfect. I know that how I sometimes respond to people and situations may not have anything to do with them directly. I know that sometimes when I long to comment I do not have the full story, that there’s more. And it is in that more, that I do not know, that the key information dwells. I know that supporting someone in a public way when a grievance is aired may be the worst thing ever as there is just too much I don’t know.
There are a couple of things I strive to do if at all possible:
get a little distance – quilting analogy alert – one of the best ways in quilting to see if something is working or not is to step back and look. One of the ways I achieve this is by shooting the quilt with my camera or cell. This gives me the distance to look at the whole quilt to see what’s working and what’s not. In a grievance the distance gives me a little bit of space to get over the intense emotions, allowing me to see much more clearly. And address things differently
talk with a friend privately to see if I’ve been a bit of a twit and.or to get advice on how to handle a situation. This is kept private, with friends I know will be discreet and kind and be honest with me. In quilting it’s like asking for advice on what I should do with the quilt. Sometimes I like the advice, more often than not the suggestions confirm my own direction or help eliminate something that doesn’t speak to me.
talk with the person. this is the hard part. It’s never easy. Even when the talking happens it can go all pear shaped. Ask me how I know. But still it has to be done with kindness and love. In quilting it’s like taking out icky quilting. You know, using the un-sewing tool….the seam ripper. Using the seam ripper is always worth it in the end.
recognize that some things I can’t fix – it happens. it’s hard. it makes my heart ache, because it’s often someone I really like and admire. I’ve set more than one quilt aside, passed it on, tossed it in the trash over the years cause it just couldn’t be fixed.
recognize that I’m not always the person to take the first step – this one is hard. Because it means I need to be patient and wait. It means that the arms and heart remain open. It’s not easy, nor should it be. I’m not always the person to take the first step because of the misunderstanding. It may not be my grievance. It may be nothing to do with me. It may be. . .
And yes I’m still not perfect. Sometimes I just read things the wrong way. I don’t always handle things well. But I am willing to give things a try. I’m willing to try and be kind. Even when I mess up.