CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter…
The garage door wouldn’t work. I immediately, silently, asked, accusingly, Who messed up the garage door?
That is always my first reaction when something goes wrong: Who messed this up? Who’s to blame?
I am never in the first list of suspects. As the list grows shorter, though, my name appears. It turns out, almost always, that I was the one who messed up.
If anyone messed up at all. Sometimes garage doors just get tired of working. Especially if it’s 15 below zero [F]. So I guess I could get some satisfaction by saying it was the garage door that messed up, or the cold air, but, no, that doesn’t work. Even at my least rational, I don’t assume that air and doors have free will.
Somebody’s got to be blamed, though, right? Otherwise, how do we keep the world in balance? It’s Newton’s Third Law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Except people don’t operate on the laws of physics.
Somebody has to be blamed, and when I can’t find anyone else, I blame myself. Often with great justification.
The First Law of Messups is SEITB: Somebody Else Is To Blame. I learned this from my mother. Her regular saying when she messed up was, “Look at what you made me do.” Even when it was clear that she was the one who had messed up, she still wasn’t to blame, for someone else made her do it.
So I know now why it is that I always want to blame someone else, even when I’m the one who messed up, or when no one at all messed up. That knowledge doesn’t change a thing about my first reaction, because reactions are emotional. That remains the same: Who [else] is to blame?
Knowledge is the booby prize. Knowledge alone doesn’t change anything.
The knowledge is a door, though. Now I know what is behind that door. Yes, I’ll go ahead and first try to blame someone else. Then I’ll blame myself. But then I’ll final go through the door marked “forgiveness.” Blame doesn’t have to last forever.
You see, you don’t have to change your first reaction to get to forgiveness. Just be patient, with yourself and others, and eventually that door will open.
“All we ask [in old age] is to be allowed to remain the authors of our own story.” Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, p. 140.
The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP], where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] Having met and married while at IU in Bloomington, IN, we became Bloomarangs in May of 2015, moving back to where we started, closing the circle. We no longer live in the land of winter, but I am in the winter of my years, and so I am still trying to understand Christ in winter.