AnonymousDeleted UserSeptember 30, 2020 at 1:56 am
So I know that it has come up before how our intentions do not erase the reality of the impact of our actions or beliefs (often times, we tend to resort to defending ourselves based on our intentions, while erasing the realities of their impact). I think that the way I can hold such things in tension is to discern someone’s intentions. For example, my best friend is a straight white woman who is not convinced to be fully affirming of LGBTQ relationships, even though she is affirming, her motivation is not homophobia, but truly a lack of conviction on scripture, she is however, quite humble, and therefore does not feel that it is her place to impose her belief upon LGBTQ people, especially since she recognizes that in the end, its not impacting her or her life at stake. I remember the first time I met someone I really was interested in dating, and I was sharing with her how excited I was to have met someone I felt was marriagable, and she cried because she did not want me to marry a woman. Later on, she called me and apologized saying that it kind of sucks when your friend tells you about someone they’re excited about and then you respond by crying. I told her that I wasn’t hurt by her response, I knew the tension she felt inside of herself, and that what she really desired was my righteousness which is why she was so distraught. If the shoe was on the other foot, and it has been in my life, I would be distressed by a friend or loved one pursuing a relationship I felt was going to lead to bad things/destructive stuff in their life. I think that part of the tension of living as siblings in Christ is our desire to see other’s live in righteousness/ shalom/ human flourishing while also respecting their spiritual agency.
Over time, and after a lot of intentional work put in to help myself heal from my spiritual and religious trauma / triggers / C-PTSD, it gave me space to give people grace but also helped me to discern better people’s intentions or motivations? If you are having a hard time holding space for other’s growing pains, it might be because you haven’t been able to give yourself that grace. I remember I shared on a panel one time that I realized I gave others more grace than I did myself, and God pointed that out to me and said, maybe it’s time for you to love yourself as you love your neighbor? It’s also possible that it’s not your time/role/place right now to be the person directly engaging with those non affirming people. I’m not saying never to engage people who disagree with you but I’m saying if the wounds are too deep and fresh, its okay to have a boundary and say no I can’t (right now). I have had to learn these boundaries when it comes to engaging white people on racial justice work because I was so burned out / trying to pour from an empty cup that I couldn’t have the pastoral posture that they needed to help walk with them through their white fragility/journey of growth, part of it was that the white community I was in was demanding that I give and give and give. I had others tell me that it was okay to advocate for my own self care/boundaries/ sabbath rest, and then I began to draw those boundaries. Now I do engage with both white and non affirming people, but not in a way that is exploitative extraction on their part but with healthy boundaries both for them and for me.
But returning to the issue of intentions, I have engaged with non affirming people who are motivated by pride, malice, and greed, their intention is not righteousness or repentance but power. I do not engage people like that the same as I do people who’s hearts are in the right places but aren’t there theologically. This is another kind of boundary I guess! I think that for those who’s intentions are good, you can show them the impact of their beliefs, and that will engage their intention to reorient/grow, but if you share with them the harmful impacts of their good intentions and they don’t care about correcting, then their intent was never genuine to begin with, merely a protective barrier for their racism or homophobia. I think it does come back in many ways to pride! and the way of ignorance/ a person’s ability to be humble, and not everyone is there, and its okay to draw a boundary if someone is not engaging in good faith.
hope that helps?