Whenever a relative signs off on you, declares you toxic and untouchable, not even worthy of a good college try at Christmas and Thanksgiving, then, if you’re like most people, you’ll ask yourself the question “why?”
There will be a few obvious answers, a few exchanges you regret, a few things they did and a few things you did, but if you consider yourself common beneficiaries of Christian grace, you might follow that question up with, “was there anything so awful that it can’t be forgiven?”
If the answer is “no,” (and unless you are a dangerous criminal the answer is always “no”), then you might be tempted to re-visit this disaffection over and over again, torturing yourself with the challenge of digging up the bitter, but unreachable, root.
It might help, before you destroy yourself, to measure the sort of friendships still maintained by the departed one. If the one who has signed off on you nurtures relationships with emotional weaklings, you weren’t the problem in the first place. If they abide the presence of insulting, back-biting shrews, you weren’t the problem. If they can only endure the company of people who indulge them, you weren’t the problem.
Take an inventory of the company they keep. It will tell you a great deal.
I talked to a fellow the other day who hasn’t seen his adult son in three or four years.
“His wife,” the man told me, “has succeeded in alienating my boy from everyone in the family and all of his old friends.”
“I guess,” the main continued, “she likes to disinfect everything, has a germ phobia of some sort, and she says I have a critical spirit.”
I’ve known this fellow for about seventeen years. We’re not close friends but I’ve never sensed anything like a critical spirit in him. We do meet on pretty jovial occasions, but ‘critical spirit?’ No, not even close.
There are moments, in life, where a brutal clarity becomes sadly apparent: we say we believe in fair-play, charity, kindness, but we are far more likely to treat each other like bastards — and actually feel a little holy about it. A great deal of cruelty is justified by people who claim to be at perfect peace with Christ. That’s a little frightening when you think about it. I’m guessing the person worried about whether Christ knows him is likely a bit more patient with his fellow man. “Fear and trembling” means just that.
I have learned not to dismiss nutty ideas in California. You never know when they will become law.
But, seriously, how would that even work? Would a recently arrived Asian immigrant be expected to pay reparations to black Americans? Would the great great grandson of a crusading abolitionist face the same obligation as the descendants of southern slave holders? Would present day Africans be charged for being the descendants of slave traders? Would American blacks who descended from slave-holding blacks get in on the reparations too?
And once we establish this idea of the never-oppressed being compensated by the never-having-oppressed, where does it stop? Couldn’t women ask for reparations for going without the vote? Can the Irish hit up the Norwegians for burning and pillaging their villages in the ninth century? Maybe the Hebrews didn’t get enough Egyptian gold and silver when they left town. After all, they were enslaved for 400 years.
I’m just talking about the obvious stuff. I’m guessing a crusading intersectionalist could dig up a LOT in the ancient damages department. Historic social injustice is a growth industry, and ponder this: 77% of black Americans think they should be paid reparations. To those folks, the idea isn’t the least bit nutty.
The further we get from Christianity as a culture, the more cruel, and nutty, and judgmental we get.
The lady who cuts my hair gave me some “product” and showed me how to use it. (You actually clap your hands to activate the wax in the paste, I was told.) Blimey. It actually works. I can sculpt my mop into just about any sort of hair helmet I want.
That is all.