Start With Sorry

The other day, as I was working on a storyboard for Book 2 when my daughter asked me if she could watch TV in my room. I wasn’t particularly focused anyway, so I let her in hoping that inspiration would strike in spite of (much appreciated) distraction. She settled on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and, The Wardrobe.  I’m a big fan of the series. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one of my all time favorite books. Needless to say, I happily obliged. Admittedly, I didn’t get a ton of work done, but spending time with my girl was more fun anyway.

It’s been awhile since I read the book or seen the movie, but something towards the end struck me for the first time. The youngest boy (Edmund) is involved in a serious betrayal which sets off a series of unfortunate events (see what I did there? I’m a book nerd. Get used to it). He’s take aside by the lion (Aslan) who is the true ruler of everything despite the witch calling herself the queen. He and Aslan work things out at which point Aslan instructs the others not to speak of what happened anymore because “what’s done is done”. The entire series is pretty purposely allegorical. It’s essentially the gospels of the Bible in a parallel universe. In fact, Aslan himself tells the children, “In your world I am known by another name.” It’s Christian. It’s meant to be Christian. Most people understand that. Fine.

It’s that exact reason this line bothers me so much. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons I walked away from the church. There’s an expectation for everyone to be accountable for everything UNLESS they’re in the church. It’s ridiculous. I once had a friend who accused me of “having more grace for those outside the church than those in it”. Uhhh…is that supposed to be an insult? If the church is “supposed to” have ownership of the moral high ground (which, btw, they really really don’t), shouldn’t extra grace be extended to the folks you yourselves actually believe need it..well…more?

But, truly, that’s not even the point. When you know better, you’re supposed to do better and that definitely extends to accountability. The idea of falling back on, “Well, I asked God for forgiveness, so this is now done” is utter crap. If someone hits my daughter and then asks me for forgiveness, she’s still allowed to have unresolved feelings about the person who hit her – especially, if they haven’t apologized directly to her.

I’ve been thinking about this more lately because with my book coming out soon, I’m wondering how I’m going to deal with some of the members of my family. I didn’t meet half of them until I was 14 and since then, their presence in my life has been inconsistent. I’ll admit that there is blame to go around for that, but since I was a kid when it started, the blame doesn’t begin or end with me. Be that as it may, because of the inconsistency in this fractured relationship, there are things about me they don’t really know well. If I remind them of any of these things (say, for example, the fact that my husband and son have Celiac Disease and I can’t digest gluten), I’m accused of being bitter. Uhhh…no, I just don’t like being sick for days to weeks on end because of an accidental exposure.

At some point, people have to deal with the stuff. You only have to look at the history of the church’s active participation and complicity in bigotry to see that. No one likes getting called out and no one likes being wrong. But, if we don’t start by saying – and meaning – I’m sorry, we can’t fix anything. We have to acknowledge the broken pieces for them to truly be repaired. I have no hope whatsoever that the (general) modern church will do this. The rest of us will just have to pick up the slack.

To paraphrase The American President (a movie I watch with great irony now), just say you’re sorry; people like that.

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