talking down

5 12 2010

Last Sunday evening one of our teenagers climbed on the roof again, the first time for ages. Having promised I would call the Police if it happened, I did, after giving him the chance to come down. He didn’t. The Police duly came. Due to the freezing weather (pre-snow) they called the Ambulance. And the Fire Brigade (don’t you just love the word ‘brigade’. Very quaint). Our little street has never had so much drama. In the end I managed to talk him down after 2 hours, so the harnesses and hunky firemen were not needed.

So happens next?

A freezing teenager with hands cold as ice, shivering, still cross with everyone for not just leaving him alone… well, if we transpose this to some people’s idea of God, and how he will treat us on the other side (which is actually this side, but more of that another time…), the freezing hands should not be warmed but  made colder to teach a lesson; rules have been breached, a line has been crossed, justice must be done. And justice always means pain, rejection. Punishment.

Funnily enough we didn’t do that. A warm house, time to think, a conversation with a Police Officer – all accepted. A hot drink (rejected) and cheese on toast (rejected – but yummy in my tummy). Love says: this behaviour is not acceptable but you are loved. Love says: this behaviour is not acceptable but I understand the turmoil in your mind and I want to help you. Love says: you have ruined my evening but love is patient and love is kind even when love is stretched to the end of its tether. What punishment works but love, nothing like the chesed (continuing love) of Yahweh of course, but love all the same.

Justice is of course a part of this, and not apart from this. Because I don’t believe the justice of God depends on formulas like science experiments. You’ve committed this sin so you are out; you have been good, so you are in. Tally up the votes like in X-Factor and chuck you out or keep you in? I think not. Because true justice isn‘t so blinkered. True justice knows that people do things wrong because of things that have gone wrong because of things that have gone wrong… True justice knows that perfect love drives out all fear; that the strength of love is stronger than the strongest punishment; that for those who know no love, love is terrifying enough. And beautiful enough. And unexpected enough.

The grace and love and forgiveness of God must always be terrifying. To those who know it, sometimes not terrifying enough. To those who don’t yet know, terrifying indeed.  And beautiful. And unexpected. And utterly transforming.

At the end, maybe we will all be talked down by love.

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6 responses

5 12 2010
fran

they were hunky firepeople from the brigade. it was cold. It wasn’t the most dramatic thing that has happened on our streets but thankfully we managed not to be involved in that one.

6 12 2010
c2drl

We show God’s love again and again and again and then we get cross because the person doesn’t change and doesn’t get transformed, they go on getting up our nose and spoiling our evenings. Then we realise that God doesn’t love us in order to change us (that is a C20 take on cause and effect!) he loves us because we are us and he made us. Actually I haven’t responded in any way adequately to his love either, but he hasn’t stopped loviong me.

I don’t understand Gods love but I do experience it and it is amazing. It defies logic. So it gives me strength to go on loving in his spirit. Even on a cold night in November, but I am very glad it was you and not me out there.

7 12 2010
carol

Anger can make each one of us stubborn…things get out of hand and we get fearful and frightened…stuck…be it on a roof…or in a rut of our own making.

The most surprising thing is that God reaches out to us in the most unexpected places…offering comfort and acceptance…be it hot chocolate…cheese on toast.. kindness.

Jesus understands our weaknesses and offers love ..undeserved and unmerited…
to us all.

What a wonderful Saviour!!!

8 12 2010
Anon

You did an amazing job of talking the teen down and more than that, of responding to the behaviour /act in a way that goes against almost every instinct that we, in our ‘cbt’ oriented society, have. (Like you say, we are encouraged to ignore / punish bad behaviour and respond with kindness only to ‘good’ behaviour. Unfortunately, this approach does little for broken teenagers who are so often less able to hide their turmoil.

More than the EVENT that you write about, your own reflections on love are “terrifying” and I will have to come back and read them again in order to fully take in what you say here.

I used to know the love you write about, and despite always being cynical, I never believed that I’d end up this cold, this tired and this close to jumping.

Thank you for making me think.

9 12 2010
fran

I have lots of blankets.

9 12 2010
Kevin

Thank you Anon. There is always another way. Sometimes it is time. Sometimes it is patience. Sometimes it is a hunky fireman coming to rescue you. Sometimes it is a terrified skinny vicar being carried by a hunky fireman (that was the next part of their plan!). Sometimes it is the pull of the warm blanket.

Sometimes the cynicism which keeps us grounded (so to speak) can be overridden by simple cheese on toast.

Always there is love. Always. Always. Always.

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