Today we do something different. A student I used to work with has been wrestling with some things in her life and wrote a blog. After we discussed it I asked if she was willing to share it here.
My purpose for asking… To help gain perspective that everyone wrestles with different things at different points in our lives.
The following are her words… Enjoy
In the United States, I am a member of a privileged, oppressive community. Educated, healthy, middle class, white, semi religious, cisgendered, citizen by birth, adult, etc. I’m also a member of a couple less privileged communities, but that’s not the point at the moment.
I recently watched forgiveness happen in a big and unreasonable and powerful way. It inspired me to look for it again.
As a member of an oppressive community, I have played a part in the systemic and individual oppression of persons and people groups living outside of aforementioned (and other) socially elevated labels. For the part I have played, and to some extent on behalf of the whole community, I have some things to say to you whom my oppressive system has hurt. I have a plea for your forgiveness. I urge you other privileged people to join me in that plea.
You are everywhere and I don’t know you. I argue over what should be done about your existence. I list you as a political or moral viewpoint. I name you a social battle ground. I make you my pet project. I use you to fuel my sense of usefulness. I talk about you to make myself look good. I feel like a hero when I treat you like a person.
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your story. I forget you are a person even while I’m advocating for your rights. I trample all over you on a regular basis while calling myself your ally. I can’t even name all the categories I place you in so I can think myself more human than you. I probably overlook whole groups.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the ways I don’t know I’ve hurt you. I’m sorry for all the ways I’ve destroyed your life. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve stepped on you to pick myself up. I’m sorry for all the times I’ve abused you with my ignorant expectations of you. I’m sorry for all the ways I’ve ignored you. I’m sorry for silencing you. I’m sorry for making you an “issue.” I’m sorry for making your life all about me.
I don’t know who you are or what I have done. I need your grace and your love because I can never make up to you what I have done. I can never right all the ways I’ve wronged you. I can never properly understand all the things I’ve screwed up with you. I can never give you the complete and full repentance you deserve. I can’t even assure you it’s safe to trust me again. I know I will hurt you again.
But I want to be part of you. I want to belong with you. I want to tell stories with you and laugh with you and march with you and learn with you. I know I deserve to be left in the crappy society of oppression and exclusivity I have created. But I want to be part of the beautiful community you have created instead. I won’t be good to you, but I will try. I want you to show me what I CAN mend or redeem or change. I want to know you as the wonderful people you are. I know you to be radically loving against all reason, and I ask that you extend that love and forgiveness to me. If you are willing.
I know many of you have been waiting eagerly, ready with open arms as soon as I ask. You are angels of a love that triumphs over commonplace systems. You are the way of a better world.
You, reading this. Is this you? Are you a person I have mistreated in this way? If so, whether I know it yet or not, I’m talking to you. I actually want your answer.
Will you forgive me? Will you introduce me to your people? Will you raise your hand and tell me your name and your story? Will you destroy my assumptions? Will you rebuke me? Will you tell me what I can do? Will you share a meal with me? Will you invite me into your life?
I know you don’t need me. You’re doing just fine. You’re excelling despite my oppression. You don’t need me. I need you. And I’ve pushed you away.
I want to try again.