Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Broken for You

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about brokenness. I am now a black belt in Taekwondo. I absolutely love it. Growing up, I was never athletic although I did letter in HS Track. At any rate, Taekwondo is great for me because it's an individual sport and I have a trainer telling me what to do and when and for how long. It's really a win-win for me. Plus it's a little bit social but not too much. At any rate on Wednesday, while doing side-snap kicks, I came down on the outer edge of my right foot and just rolled out. For a split second, all my body weight was transferred to that part of my body. My first thought was embarrassment because I didn't want to cry or pass out in front of the group. After getting it X-rayed the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Kang, said that I had a "total ligament rupture" (ligaments ripped from the ankle bone) and a "virgin fracture" (a teeny bit of bone came with the ligaments). I have to wear this brace for a month and no TKD for 6 months. Walked with crutches for a couple of days and now I'm trying to go without. Keeping it elevated and all that.
Walking around, being so visibly hurt, seemed to draw people to me with expressions concern. Things were said such as "What did you DO do yourself?" as if I had gotten a tattoo or something. And I have to wonder if this brokenness is what draws people to Christ. There must be something about suffering. Or being imperfect (which is paradoxical isn't it?). Being less than.
I would have to say the last minister I really connected with was an Episcopal woman in a wheelchair. Somehow her being both a minority in her profession as well as a physically challenged person drew me to her. I felt that here was someone God had put into my life to talk about my struggles about being a Christian, loving God and yet being gay at the same time.
Since that time, I've often had occasion to visit with other people and be quite frank about being gay and Christian. People who tend to be disenfranchised with the Church will seem to want to engage me in conversation about my faith and how I see God. They will even share their own background and pain and how they also feel outside the Body of Christ. Many times they express a wish or desire to be closer to God but no idea how to go about that. Ironically being "out" as a gay Christian has allowed me to "witness" more than being just a Christian or just a gay man.
And maybe that's the reason God has chosen not to heal me.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


davidgrummon said...

Hey Dan, AKA cripple-boy... :) Great post.

You know this reminds me somewhat of the homily I learned from Father Tony when I lived in Kankakee, Ill. for my work in the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistant project.

Well, to make it short, let's just assume you and any reader to this blog knows the story of The Good Samaritan. Great parable by Jesus to make a point about the commandment "Love thy neighbor as thyself." A man asks Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" By the end of the parable the man has to admit it includes the Samaritan--the racial and religious outcasts of that time.

But Father Tony's homily on this parable goes beyond that. Consider, he said, all the characters in this story. The Innkeeper. The Samaritan. The bandits. The Priest. The Levite. The man who was attacked and lies broken by the roadside. Which character in this parable represents Christ?

Well, we all want to say the Good Samaritan, but that's not it. It's definitely not the Priest. It's definitely not the Levite, i.e. lawyer. :) Not the innkeeper. Not the bandits.

The Christ character is the man from Jerusalem lying beaten and broken by the road. It is he who brings out the compassion and loving behavior from, of all people, the yucky Samaritan. So it is with Christ. So it is with tragedies of many kinds. The power of Christ is rarely manifest in armies of angels, supernatural miracles, and cinematic defeat of the forces of evil. Rather, Christ takes tragedy and creates a miracle... He brings out loving behavior which would not otherwise be present.

Nowhere did I see this more apparent than Father Tony's own household that summer. His ailing mother, failing in her strength and health had moved in with him. "I'm such a burden to him, I don't know why God doesn't just take me now," she would say. But in reality, she had brought light and joy to the rectory. One paritioner who daily came to help her was a recovering alcoholic and a divorcee who had a hard time feeling accepted in the Church. Here, she found redemption in the care she gave to Tony's mom and got a lot of peace and joy from helping her. Tony himself had to slow down and take time to talk to her, listen to her, care for her, and it made him a better priest and more patient. Even the most helpless of individuals is capable of being loved, and that is actually a very powerful and useful thing in this world.

Dannyboy said...

I really liked this extention. Here is an example of why I have always thought my brother was way more of a genius than me! I really liked this part: "The power of Christ is rarely manifest in armies of angels, supernatural miracles, and cinematic defeat of the forces of evil. Rather, Christ takes tragedy and creates a miracle... He brings out loving behavior which would not otherwise be present." Can't say it better than that!