Post Apology

I’ve seen other bloggers do this—apologize for something they said in a post, be it the tone or the words themselves—and prayed I’d never have to.  My ego recoils at the idea.

But it’s 4 am here and Dave’s out of town and I’m wide awake and lying in bed thinking, Oh no. It’s my turn.  I wish I hadn’t said some things the way I said them in my last post. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes our soul surfaces truths in the middle of the night?

Let’s start with this. My comments about my church sounded boastful. But worse, they could easily be taken to mean that we don’t value doctrine or embrace the basic tenets of Christianity—which couldn’t be further from the truth. So I feel like I owe an apology  to the people I fellowship with who care a great deal about their theology, especially when it comes to beliefs about Jesus.

I think I also owe an apology to others of my fellow Christians for making it sound like I think the only “right way” to be a loving Christian is to not care about “right beliefs.” I am so sorry. And I can see how it would have surprised and offended many of my readers whose hearts I really care about.

Ironically, I thought I was being of service by exploring a question raised in a previous post. But instead, I said some things I regret and I think I sound arrogant and peevish in spots. And here’s the thing: I am arrogant and peevish. It’s not a mistake in writing, it’s a mistake in my posture and attitude.

I guess I’m mainly talking about those several paragraphs in the middle of the piece.

What I wish I had said better is that beliefs matter HUGELY to us in the Christian faith, but it breaks my heart when I realize how often in the past I—not just all you other less enlightened folks—have required people to share my beliefs before I was willing to open my heart to them or extend the kind of love God lavishes on all of us and that precedes any kind of belief.

If you share my Christian faith and felt betrayed or troubled by my last post, I sincerely apologize and I thank you for your objections—spoken, written, or simply sent my way via your concern or prayer.

If you loved that post or parts of it, that makes sense, too. Don’t second guess yourself for seeing the beauty in the message. I was trying to say some important, true things about how community happens. Thanks for your comments and reposts.

If you love me and know me well, don’t worry too much about me after reading this. Yes, it was painful to realize my mistake. But I do not plan to beat myself up or allow my ego to shame me or have drama about this for days.

I plan to accept the peace of heart that comes from making amends as best I can and go back to sleep now.

Thanks for listening. Hugs and love, Heather

 

Comments

  1. I’ll weigh in as one of those who appreciated the post. I’ve tried ever so hard to describe our new church and it’s appeal to friends, but it’s so outside their experience that they can’t imagine. “What do you mean there’s no statement of faith?”

    I appreciate your humility in apologizing and clarifying. There is no one “right and only true” way to build a spiritual community, but I’m glad you highlighted this important need in Christendom and honoured your church family for their strengths. Keep it coming!

  2. Feel fre to edit, Heather, this is waaay too long….I think you beat yourself up primarily because it was 4 o’clock in the morning and you were having post-blog jitters–LOL ;) I did NOT take your post that way AT ALL. But now that you’ve raised the topic…

    For 9 years my family was stationed in a town where there were MANY churches to choose from but only one–ONE!!!–in our denomination. I begged my husband to let me take the kids and leave our denomination for non-denominational churches that were more connected with each other, with better fellowship, better worship, more comfortable with emotions, had altar calls for people struggling–to no avail. We both believed unswervingly in the biblical teachings of our denomination. I spent many years crying, alone, judged, lacking fellowship, being excluded, skipping communion because I hated that church so much I was CHOKING on it on Sundays, treated like a pariah because of my mental illness and because I’d converted from another denomination–much of this, I believe, was because they were lacking in love and also because they were LAZY, because THEY KNEW THEY WERE THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN. For a long time, I watched people come, convert, get hurt, and leave. And I mean HURT BAD. One woman’s husband was SEVERELY injured by an IED and was in a hospital in Germany for months, and despite the fact that it WAS IN THE BULLETIN, and she was alone in a military town with no family, 3 small children, and another due any day–NOT ONE PERSON CALLED.

    NOT EVEN ME.

    I was so wrapped up in my own pain I wasn’t even aware she existed. I was so busy begging my husband to let me “church-shop” for somewhere I could feel like I “belonged” instead of digging in where I knew what I BELIEVED was being taught, I never made the effort on my part to reach halfway across that barren field and hope and pray for another hand to reach across to meet mine. When I dug in, and claimed that “body” as MY OWN because there was nowhere else I could go at that time where we all shared the same biblical beliefs, and did not compromise truth for “belonging”–i GREW! In faith, in love, in dependence on God, in perseverance, away from my “fear of man”–and i met some other hurting people who had been too afraid to speak up. I would not want to go back there if I didn’t HAVE to–LOL–but there is a special place in my heart for the people there I came to see with God’s eyes.

    I’m NOT suggesting YOU, Heather, are compromising “truth” for “belonging”. But for everyone out there who’s been burned by church/other christians and thinks groups outside the church are the only place you can really belong, I say go back to church. DIG IN. IT’S YOUR BODY. You belong to it, AND IT BELONGS TO YOU. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. NEVER compromise on “the Truth”.

  3. You even apologize beautifully, Heather. I’m one of the ones who loves you (and wishes I knew you better). I’m happy you went back to sleep. :)

  4. I appreciate the concern that led you to apologize – and you clarify some things in the process – but I am so glad you wrote the “More Beautiful” post. It describes a welcoming grace that I want to have and show to others in Christian community. Once in awhile we achieve it, with a balance of sound doctrine, love, and grace. But balance is hard.
    I have failed much more often in showing legalism toward others than in giving them too much love and grace. Grace is scary. It acknowledges we are all often wrong, and need it. Yet, I so love to think I am right…!

    • Karen, I love this comment. Especially the part about how grace is scary and why. Don’t tell anyone, but I love being right so much that I used to tell Dave all the time my favorite words to hear from him weren’t “I love you,” but “I was wrong.” :)

  5. New reader to your blog & thanks to the last 2 posts I can finally put my finger on it!!!
    We left a 12 year pastorate for missions work that failed to fund. Never moving away and remaining in our small town I often bumped into Christians who asked “Where is your family going?” (meaning church) and I never had an answer. We never found a place to worship. Sure, our options are limited, I mean there’s not another church within 35 miles of us that was sorta close to the church we led. Oh, we tried lots of new traditions, and worship styles. But there was just no connection for us and more than anything we’ve missed connection. Community. Now, though I understand why “Where are you going?” stung. I needed, nah longed, to be asked “How are you guys doing?” I needed a place to worship where I could be real and vulnerable about our experience serving God. I was aching too much to rally around a set of feel good, God is great, have more faith beliefs. Perhaps now, I get it. Which means I can understand what was happening in my own heart and be moved to action. or healing. or both. thank soberboots. thanks.

    • Stephanie, sorry I”m late replying, but so cool to “meet” you!! Welcome to my blog. Your comment here makes me want to hug you. I SO get it! Been there. It took Dave and I three years to find our church…and we live in the most churched city in the country, I’m told. It was embarrassing to not be able to land somewhere for good. I feel so doubly blessed to have the benefit these days of both a recovery community where we let it all hang out and a church where we feel like we belong. Your comment was a great reminder not to take that for granted. Thanks so much for your kindness and honesty! Love.

  6. catymorris says:

    As always, I am encouraged by your honesty and your humility about yourself! We are all so much like the disciples trying to navigate through our faith (that is not even of ourselves but a gift from God) and what it all means. The rules of the old testament vs the grace of the new testament because of what Christ did for us. I am reminded of Peter trying to convert the gentiles to the Jews rules of eating after their conversion when Paul intervened and proclaimed that they were all now under the law of grace. So if Peter who was with Christ during his ministry didn’t have it all figured out all at once then we can find comfort that our loving Savior will continue to teach us His ways!
    Blessings my perfect-imperfect friend!
    Cat

    • That’s a great way to put it, Caty. Thank you so much for this. Yeah, me and Peter… I’ve always liked him for being a bumbler and yet also for the way he dove from the boat and swam his heart out to get to Jesus even after he’d denied him and must have been just tormented by guilt… This time, he didn’t care about walking on water. :) It was a bigger miracle, if you ask me.

  7. I loved the post because as someone who has only been a Christian for a couple of years, I relate to the pressure to believe the “right” things. I got lucky to stumble into a church which focuses on right relationship and inclusiveness. If that hadn’t happened I may have given up on church altogether. One thing I’ve seen as a new Christian is how people who have been Christians all their lives take for granted that us newbies understand and care about differences in doctrine and want us to choose sides. Some of us just want to celebrate our new understanding of Jesus and figure out how to be more like Him. I want my church to provide ways to and encourage me to help, love and embrace people regardless of their beliefs. I feel like an outsider when I read most Christian blogs because I just don’t get what the arguments are about. I just want to do the work of following Jesus.

    • Karen, WOW. I loved this line from your comment: “One thing I’ve seen as a new Christian is how people who have been Christians all their lives take for granted that us newbies understand and care about differences in doctrine and want us to choose sides.” I think that’s an important point. Thank you for taking time to write this. You’re on the right track by just following Jesus and trying to do his work of love in the world. Amen.

  8. Heather, I have only recently become aware of you and your blog; your writing resonates with me! Your comments about your church and theology and beliefs was a bit of a red flag for me so I do appreciate your apology and explanation! There was lots in that post that made sense and so I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Keep on writing!

  9. Hi Heather,

    No offense taken, and I don’t know you in a face-to-face type manner, but from reading your blogs, and your thoughts and ideas, I am positive that you did not mean to hurt or offend anyone.

    Smiles and blessings, Nancy

    P.S. Don’t you know that the darkness of the middle of the night heebie-jeebies are always viewed better in the clarity of the morning light? :)

    • Ah, Nancy, you’re right about that. Usually, wisdom says Wait. And usually, those tangled middle of the night thoughts that torture us are ego-driven and just mean. But now and then… the Spirit kind of finds a way to whisper then in a way I don’t hear when I’m blazing through my day. I’ll probably second guess the apology, too–because that’s just how I am. But I’m getting better at accepting how I am. :) Hugs, friend.

  10. Heather

    I found your original post so encouraging given my background. It’s a matter of priorities and loving and listening to people needs to precede sharing beliefs and I grew up believing the opposite. Common beliefs were a prerequisite to fellowship. I understand why you felt the need to clarify but you got it right in your post!

    Thanks for taking the risk involved in being honest and sometimes controversial, calling people to think rightly and to challenge long held attitudes.

    God bless you. Hi to Dave.

    Roy

    (No response expected.)

  11. bethkvogt says:

    I think the trouble comes when we sift and strain your words through our “mine-are-better-than-yours-values”rather than through the intent of your heart, Heather. And having read your blog posts and your book, I think I know you well enough to say the intent of your heart is never to judge or harm. You weren’t saying “Look what I have and you can’t have it too” or “Look what I’ve experienced and I’m sure you’ve never experienced this.” No, you were sharing your heart, your thankfulness for safe, welcoming, community — and your desire for more of it.

  12. I went back and looked at the posted comments from the article, and I, too, can understand how some of what you said might be taken in the way you describe here, though I didn’t feel that way. As someone who works for a church with ways narrower than I believe Christ intended, my heart feels very strongly about this topic. Doctrine that is extrapolated and created by humans is typically exclusive in nature, when Jesus directed us to *include* people. I don’t pretend to be a doctrinal academic, but I believe deep in my heart that if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of love and pray for forgiveness. We have too many examples in the Bible of Jesus loving and accepting broken people for me to believe otherwise.

  13. David J. says:

    Heather, you already had credibility with me. Now you have more. Thank you.

  14. Betty Taylor says:

    As one of those who felt compelled to respond to your previous post, I find it interesting that my initial reaction upon reading this post was one of guilt for having commented on the first post. Oh, how many negative emotions we let pile up on us until we are crushed by their weight. I’m so glad you were able to feel it briefly and then let it go. I shall do the same. Hugs

    • Ack! I so get it! We’re all just so painfully subject to this niggly voice of shame that looks for the smallest crack… Your honesty made me smile and I THANK YOU for that. I added a line to the post, too. A lot of people loved what I was saying. I hope they don’t feel betrayed by my apology for the bits that seemed arrogant in retrospect. I hope you’ll keep reading, Betty!! Hugs.

  15. I don’t know you well, having only met you once and read your book. But it’s enough not to worry about what or how you said anything in your last post. Enough to know your humble spirit in all you write. We’re all that work in progress, not yet where ever it is he is trying to take us. But for your words today, “thanks for sharing”. Keep doing that – sharing his sober mercies.

  16. Heather, thank you. I have not read the post you’re referring to but as I’m awake (its early evening here in Australia) I just had to say how much I appreciate yr writings. So much in fact, that the day I found yr blog I ALSO found and bought a copy of Sober Mercies in a bookshop I was near that day. That’s what I call God showing off :-). I had been on my knees that week, crying out to Jesus,
    feeling alone and he answered. You, Heather, were his answer to my prsyers.

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