WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Infighting Is Easier

By Teresa Honey Youngblood

“We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
— Author unknown

Two artist's models (faceless wooden figures) caught frozen in a fight.

Standing roadside, stranded, watching thousands of dollars rise in the smoke coming from under the hood, it’s easier to fight about who forgot to put oil in the car than to hold one another’s shaking hands in the shape-shifting uncertainty of whether the three white boys we’re raising will grow up woke and loving and brave.

There’s an almost pleasant mastery in stalking powerfully through the apartment, muttering about a roommate’s missteps. It’s harder to sit across from one another, spiritually naked, to learn if there is a place between us where we can both feel seen and safe, exposed and accepted, held up up to our highest standards for ourselves and helped to get there.

A passerby’s rough truth abrades the picket fence around our complacency, but instead of greeting that revelation — and its messenger — as a gift, we vilify them and defend our position with walls of denser stone. A missed opportunity, that.

And how about the seductive rush of shouting down a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook? Do we point the way toward right with an olive branch or a sword? “Defender of purity” is an identity we feel good about, while “imperfect (and occasionally misguided) fellow traveler on the rocky and misty road” is scary, and means that our future might not be ours alone to control.

An odd comfort, to know — or to even like — the enemy we spar, quite opposed to the quaking terror of facing an insatiable, million-faced behemoth named injustice.

Infighting lies about what matters. It’s a vacation in the briar patch on the way up the mountain, the distraction of a thousand bloody scratches rather than the deep wound of knowing that we — and everyone we care about — will die before the work is done, and that babies born this very moment will be broken by our failures. Even inside this searing truth, we are saving each other with each step forward together.

Love That Is All — Love That Is All and Everything — help us to make room in our own aching hearts for grace, for the willingness to offer gifts to each other such as undeserved kindness, unexpected forgiveness, and unconditional presence. These acts of love are what keep us on the path. They are us making the path. The path toward our salvation — our mutual liberation — is defined by the acts of love and grace we give and accept in return.

About the Author

Teresa Honey Youngblood

Teresa Honey Youngblood is a credentialed religious educator and the Family Ministry Coordinator for Soul Matters. She homeschools her children from a UU faith perspective, and you can download the free book she wrote in 2017 about liberal religious homeschooling. She loves hearing how...


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