An Apology to the unChurched in My Life

It’s New Years Day.  And while I’m not one for resolutions and all of that sort of thing, I feel as though something ought to be said on this day.  And it seems appropriate for it to be an apology.

I would like to issue this open apology to all of the people that have – and continue – to cross my path in life.  Particularly, to all those who cross my path without awareness of the incredible secret that I have.  People who wait tables for me or prepare sandwhiches for me or repair my car, or do any number of other things.  People that I live next to or work alongside of or share a train or plane seat next to. 

You see, I have this secret.  Except that it’s not supposed to be a secret.  I just treat it like a secret.  I know the answer to the meaning of life.  My life, your life, everyone’s life.  I know the secret to happiness.  Lasting, meaningful, life-fulfilling happiness, not just the diversion of a movie or a drink or an orgasm.  I know love unlike any love I’ve ever experienced in my life from another person.  Love that has no boundaries beyond those I myself impose on it.  Love that is uncompromising, unflinching, unfailing.  Love that has saved my life. 

I have a meaning to everything I do now that I couldn’t possibly have without this love.  I know that I exist with a purpose and a plan.  I’m not an accident of a sexual indiscretion, nor am I simply the planned offspring of my parents.  I’m not the inevitable product of millions or billions of years of evolutionary trial and error.  I’m more than the sum of my parts.  More than the measure of my output and productivity.  More than a random assemblage of atoms and synapses and trace chemicals.  I am planned.  Unique.  Unrepeatable. 

I’m imperfect.  Flawed.  Prone to error.  But also holy.  Called.  Named.  Claimed.  I am more free than I could possibly know how to act, but that freedom exists only in my total giving over of myself to the One that loves me.  Bought me.  Frees me for service to Him and those around me. 

I can’t describe to you the joy that suffuses my world.  Or more accurately put, I could. 

But I don’t.  I haven’t. 

And for that I wish to apologize.  Truly.  Vehemently.  And with great shame.

I have been willing to share my feelings about the burger I had for lunch yesterday, or the type of car I drive, or the best place to buy clothes.  But I haven’t shared this joy, this amazing, incredible, life-altering joy.  I’ve been willing to joke and laugh and discuss current events and politics and world happenings, but I haven’t shared the single most important thing in my life. 

I haven’t shared the one thing that could brighten your day, and your week, and your year and the rest of your life.  The one thing that could mean the difference between life and death for you, your family, your friends.  The one thing that could make your job more bearable.  That could make your relationship more special and meaningful.  The one thing that might alter your attitude about your kids or your wife or your drug habit or your drinking problem.  I haven’t shared the only thing that matters in my life, and that could and should matter in your life.

I’ve been afraid.  Afraid that you’d think I was crazy.  Afraid that you’d laugh at me. Afraid that you’d think me weak or foolish or desperate.  I’ve been afraid of losing a job, losing a friend, losing face, losing time.  I’ve been afraid of the twitch of your eye or the forced smile or any of a million tiny body motions that would betray your pity, your irritation, your disgust.  I’ve been afraid of your apathy, your rejection.

I’ve been afraid that you might actually want to hear more about this love of mine.  That you might start asking questions that I can’t answer.  That I might give you the wrong answers in desperation or lack of preparation.  I’ve been afraid that my desire to share this wonderful secret with you might actually push you farther away from the joy I ought to so desperately wish you shared with me.  I’ve been afraid that you might weaken my own faith with clever arguments and logical loops that I can’t untie. 

And I’ve been just plain lazy.  I’ve been more preoccupied by what to have for lunch, or whatever project I’m working on, or how to beat the next level on that video game, or any number of a million other pointless, meaningless distractions.  I’ve allowed your present and eternal condition to languish because of my fear, or worse yet, my apathy.  I’ve too often taken comfort in the thought that someone else will undoubtedly share this Good News with you, someone more eloquent, better trained, more appropriate than I. 

I’m so terribly, terribly sorry.

I’m so sorry that I have been able to listen to you speak with despair about your date last night, or the divorce you’re going through, or the loneliness, or the sickness, but haven’t had the courage to share with you the joy I have that allows me to cope with those same issues.  I’m sorry that rather than offering to pray for or with you, I’ve just offered lame platitudes about things getting better. 

I’m sorry.  I can’t undo the problems my fear and apathy and distraction may have caused in the past.  I can’t just go back to every person I’ve ignored or held my tongue with, and try to suddenly speak the words that could change their lives.  So I truly pray someone else speaks those words.  And that you’ll hear them.  And that you’ll treat that beautiful message, that incredibly Good News so much better than I have.  That you’ll share it with everyone you can think of. 

I can’t undo my failings in the past.  And I refuse to be sidetracked with guilt about that. 

But I pledge to do better.  I pledge to offer prayer, to offer the name of my love to as many people as I can this year.  Not flippantly, but with sincerity.  I pledge to hear you as we pass each other in our lives.  To ask questions.  To care.  To remember to pray for you.  And I pledge that next time we meet, I’ll find a way to let you know how happy my life is because of the love in my heart.  I’ll break through my fear or apathy to touch you with this Good News, and pray that my poor words or phrasings won’t dull or mangle the message I want to convey.

I know I can’t do this on my own.  I can’t keep much of any resolution on my own.  But I pray that God in His infinite mercy and love, will give me the strength to carry out this pledge.  That the Holy Spirit will assist me to share with as many people as I can, that Jesus Christ has saved me from death.  From unhappiness.  From meaninglessness.  From despair.  From loneliness.  From myself. 

And He can save you too.  And that can change everything. 

Happy New Year.

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