I have been trying to find the deeper meaning behind things. Not just, "I'm pissed because that guy cut me off in traffic," but more of, "I'm pissed because I have an overdeveloped sense of vengeance, and that's going to get me into trouble someday." (Princess Bride? No? Hookay.)
My friend Jeff talks about his kids a lot, and one of my favorite things is that they are not allowed to use the word "fair" in their house. Like it's a cuss, or something. Which I love. I wish he could put that rule on me, too. I've looked at my life for so long and thought, "It's just not fair." Why didn't I turn out like that? Why couldn't I have done that or experienced that? Why can't things have gone differently or better for me? Stupid, I know. But I think we all do it. Look back in regret or remorse at things, big or small, and wonder why they couldn't have gone differently. Maybe it's just me. But I can think of a dozen things off the top of my head.
And is it any wonder? I'm not making any excuse, but we live in a society filled to the brim with victimology. They should stamp it on our money. People sue because they feel they are a victim of some crime (and to make a quick buck). Entitlement runs rampant in this culture, because people feel the need for justice.
I am definitely a product of my mother. My mom is a wonderful lady, a caring, compassionate, giving woman who married three d-bags and raised me for the most part on her own. And I have found that I am more like her than I can ever imagine. Including her feeling like the world is against her and nobody loves her. Now, she knows this isn't true and so do I, but the feelings rise up in the moments when we (the universal "we") let our guard down, when the world is crashing around us and all is lost, in despair. My mom could, and perhaps does, look back on her life and say, "It's not fair." Three crap husbands, two bouts with cancer, working two jobs at 64, on and on and on. Huh. And I thought I had it rough.
I think about my mother and I want justice for her. I want justice when I read about the unfairness going on in this world, when people are swindled of their money, when people ruin other people's lives and get away with it. I get so angry! But do I get angry when I see a hungry man without food? Where is my cry for justice? Better yet, where is my cry for justice when I'm the culprit. When I hurt someone or tear someone down or wrong someone, where is my overdeveloped sence of vengeance then?
It's not there, because I've forgotten that justice is not just for the innocent, but for the guilty.
1 a : the maintenance or administration of what is just especially
by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of
merited rewards or punishments b : judge c : the administration of law;
especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the
rules of law or equity
2 a : the quality of being just, impartial, or fair b (1) : the principle or
ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or
ideal : righteousness c : the quality of conforming to law
3 : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness
"...the assignment of merited rewards or punishments." Punishments. Justice is brought on the guilty and the innocent alike, and I am a guilty bastard. I mean, I'm not a killer or anything, but I do my part. I judge people, I withhold mercy, I put people down, I write people off.
And I've forgotten the most important part: There's no justice in this world, anyway. I don't mean that in the movie-quote sense, but more in the sense that justice belongs to God. We only get justice from someone higher up who can administer that justice, right? We rely on the courts to administer that justice here in America. But how often does that fail? How many innocent people are wrongly imprisoned? How many guilty people go free? People are fallible.
God is not fallible, and justice belongs to God. You should read the Bible. I did a word-search for "justice" on biblegateway.com. It is chock-full of justice-talk. And it's kinda making me laugh because I know a lot of Christians that would be choking on their words if they read all of these verses. I love this, where Jesus is yelling at the establishment:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth
of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important
matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced
the latter, without neglecting the former." -Matthew 23:23
There's a lot of talk about justice in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, they also talk a lot about mercy, which brings me back to me. Jesus was sent to proclaim justice to the nations (Matt 12:18), and I deserve his justice. I'm a punk, and I deserve a punk's judgement, but instead, God is merciful to me. I deserve wrath, but God gives love instead. God loves me that much, that I deserve His fist, and I get His heart.
It's time for me to pass that on. To stop judging others, withholding love and asking for punishment.
I'm reminded of a call I got a few years ago. You may remember when Hussein was captured, tried, and hung on television. The butcher of Baghdad, murderer of upwards of 20 million people, getting his just rewards. A friend of mine called that afternoon, a girl who is a dear friend and was at the time learning about God, nearly in tears with an impossible question: "Could Hussein have found God?" She had been watching, and as his body hung there, she felt compassion for him. Didn't he deserve mercy, like we all do? What if someone had told him about God's mercy while he was awaiting trial, and he had sought God? Would God have had mercy on him? Yes, he would have. Can you swallow that? Can you wrap your mind around the fact that God would have mercy on Hitler? Mussolini? Manson?
It's hard for me. It's hard to understand God's mercy on those people. It's even harder to understand his mercy for me. I know my darkest thoughts.
His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne's T-shirts
When the swingset hit his head
The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead
Twenty-seven people, even more
They were boys with their cars, summer jobs
Oh my God
Are you one of them?
He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all
He'd kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took off all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth
And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid
-John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (Sufjan Stevens)