07 July 2013

Defined by What Embraces Us

"While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us." - J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar
       I spend more time than I would like interacting with people who have been abandoned - by parents, by children, by friends, and most recently, by clergy/pastors. The latter is especially painful for so many people.
       Currently I am reading J.R. Moehringer's beautiful memoir, The Tender Bar about an Irish Catholic guy about my age who grew up on the north shore of Long Island. His upbringing parallels mine in many ways. Just switch out Jewish for Irish.
       The book opens with the perplexing idea that we are drawn to the people and situations which will betray and abandon us, but we are defined by what embraces us.
       I hope this is true, because if we are also defined by what abandons us then a lot of people who have been hurt and used by religious leaders are in a heap of trouble!
       But I am more hopeful than that, only because I believe God's embrace is far greater than a person's abandonment of another.
       I am reminded of a friend who comes from a Muslim background and is now a follower of Jesus. It is a rare Muslim who will make such a radical change in life. My friend - call him Yayer - has been terribly betrayed and abandoned by his family and almost all of his Muslims friends. His life is in danger because of his new-found beliefs. But he lives in the reality of God's embrace in and through Jesus. He lives in the tension between human abandonment and divine embrace.
       So I am left with the somewhat nagging question of myself: Am I living in light of what has abandoned me or by what embraces me?

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