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(PS I’m on a blog break this week while prepping for a retreat. Thanks to Katie for letting me shamelessly plug her new tune.)
(This is something I wrote a year ago that I wanted to share again on this national day of remembering.)
This September 11th is one of looking back, grieving our losses, celebrating our heroes, and looking forward to what is, hopefully, a better future. It’s been ten years since that awful day. Ten years. In many ways it still feels like it all happened just this morning.
I’d prefer September 11th wasn’t a national holiday, a big arrow on the calendar that reminds me and reminds me and reminds me. I’d prefer there was nothing to debate about what a proper memorial of the Twin Towers should look like, no reason for awkward body scans at the airport, no reason to suspect people who look a certain way or wear a certain article of clothing or practice a certain lifestyle. It’s a terrible thing to walk through life being suspicious, squinty-eyed, afraid. But I guess that’s what you wanted.
Out of my fear and hurt I’ve wanted you to be afraid and to hurt, too. I’ve wanted to smash you, terrify you, eliminate you, no matter what the cost to life and soul.
But ten years later, I don’t want that anymore.
I’m tired of hating. I’m tired of being suspicious. I’m tired of living in fear. It hasn’t brought me any satisfaction, meaning, or peace. It hasn’t done anything to make me feel better or to bring comfort to families who lost loved ones that day. In fact, nurturing my fear and hurt seems to have only added to the problem. It’s multiplied it. Exponentially. And now we’ve lost so many more.
It’s only made the world – my world, your world, the one we share – a darker, uglier place.
And here’s the thing. My son, my very first child, has September 11th, 2011 – the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 – as his due date. And I don’t want him showing up in a world where everyone’s so afraid of each other, where people spend their entire lives working to destroy each other. I don’t want him looking up at me and asking me why I pulled him a little closer when someone who looks different from me (someone who looks more like “them”) walks by. Yes, it’s just that ugly. And I’m sick of it. And I want out. So here’s my out:
I forgive you.
I don’t excuse you. I don’t justify what you’ve done. I don’t forget what’s happened. But I forgive you.
Because you, like me, learned what matters most from those who came before you. And you, like me, were raised to believe certain things about how the world works. And you, like me, are trying your hardest to live as faithfully as you can to what you believe. But especially because you, like me, keep getting it wrong, keep missing the point, keep needing rescue from all this hurt we’ve caused each other.
So this September 11th, my son’s due date, the ten-year anniversary of a terrible, unforgivable tragedy, I choose to forgive you.
And not reluctantly, but wholeheartedly. Not “you stay over there and I’ll stay over here”, but I’ll run to you and embrace you and welcome you into my house and give you something really tasty to eat, and we can talk to each other and listen to each other and maybe, hopefully, our unprecedented, unimagined, but entirely possible friendship can write an entirely new future for our children.
I hope you’ll forgive me, too.
Believing it’s possible,
(photo credit: Denise Gould)
If you’ve stumbled upon my blog recently or are one of my thousands of subscribers (and by “thousands”, I mean “tens”), you may have noticed that I’ve shifted my attention from The Church of Facebook blog to jesserice.com. And that one looks a little different every day as I tweak this widget and that header and on and on.
Why the new blog at jesserice.com? Because…
1. I don’t want to have to support each new writing project with its own blogging site. With The Church of Facebook, I needed a web platform to tool around with marketing for the book and learn some blogging basics. Mission accomplished! In just two and a half years I’ve sold dozens of books around the world and learned how to change the background colors of my WordPress theme! But the time has come to consolidate my web presence and creative projects under one name, the very name my parents gave me: Reginald Slartibartfast (which is Latin for “Jesse Rice”).
2. I have more interests than just Facebook. Sometimes when I meet people and I mention that I wrote The Church of Facebook (“Yeah, I’ll take a grande nonfat vanilla latte with whip, and did you know I wrote a book?”) they assume I eat, sleep, and breathe Facebook. But if I’m being honest, social networking and social media don’t really interest me that much. Topics I’m actually passionate about: helping people discover their vocation, relationships of all kinds, popular culture and its impact on our hearts and minds, and, of course, house plant maintenance.
3. I’m a terrible blogger but I’d like to become a better one. My blogging friends with large audiences practice three habits I do not:
blogging great content.
blogging with clear goals in mind.
This new blog with my name attached is another chance for me to learn and grow in the art of writing and blogging. Also, it’s an opportunity to use bullet points.
4. I’ll soon be launching a static site dedicated to my speaking ventures. My hope is that the blog will serve as a compliment to the static site by offering regularly new content and a chance to experiment with topics I’ll actually be speaking about (like “house plant maintenance”).
5. Sometimes you just need to admit you’ve failed and start over. I pretty much failed as The Church of Facebook blogger and that’s okay. I have other gifts. Namely, house plant maintenance. I was inconsistent, my branding was all over the place (as were my topics), and did not have any clear goals in mind. I sincerely apologize to my faithful subscribers who took a chance pressing the “submit” button and didn’t get much in return. But admitting failure clears the road for a new beginning.
So take 10 seconds and head over to my new blog at jesserice.com. Subscribe with your email address (top right). to receive my once-a-week “news, tips, and tricks” containing humorous yet thought-provoking anecdotes that could revolutionize the way you maintain your house plants.
Looking forward to connecting more at jesserice.com,
I wanted let you know the my wife, Katie, wrote and recorded a BEAUTIFUL Christmas song that I think you might really enjoy.
It’s called Sweet Night and it has been used in Christmas Eve services across the country, featured on a Dutch TV show seen by 1.7 million people, and voted #1 by editors on CDbaby’s Holiday Charts.
You can download it temporarily for FREE right HERE from NoiseTrade.com
To keep things fresh this Christmas and to try prevent soul-suckage from gift shopping, I’m trying to see the Christmas story through a variety of lenses. So I spent some time this weekend thinking about the upside down elements of the Christmas story we remember every year. Here are some observations along those lines.
First, the most obvious: The long-expected Messiah who was going to topple the secular government and save his people shows up as a baby.
You can almost hear history building in excitement as the Messiah’s genealogy unfolds over time. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David. Everything crescendos, the anticipation builds until no one can stand it any longer, and then…a little diaper-soiling baby is born.
That’s the climax of history? A little baby? Totally unexpected.
Second, who gets the first news that this baby Messiah had arrived? Who do God’s own angels announce this to? Is it the esteemed religious leaders or the political power structures in the Jewish or Roman worlds? Nope. It’s the shepherds.
Shepherds got the news first. Shepherd were the guys who were so scruffy and disreputable, all they could do was herd animals on the outside of town. And they find out about Messiah coming before any of the religious types, before any of the rich and powerful types. Totally unexpected.
And finally, who are the first to worship this little baby Messiah? The gospel writer, Matthew, indicates it was the Magi, the ones we call “the three wise men.” But who were the Magi? The Magi were not Jews, they were foreigners. They were outsiders. They were also astrologers. The source of the wisdom they claimed had to do with their expertise in understanding the alignment of orbiting balls of dirt. Are you getting this? The first people to worship Jesus were pagan astrologers!
What is going on here? This is not how the Messiah is supposed to show up. This is not how God is supposed to work.
Everything about Jesus birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection are unexpected. It’s as if his life was testifying, “You think you know the heart of God, but you have no idea. Open your eyes wider. Open your hearts wider! Salvation is here and it’s right in front of you!
So lay down your tightly-held ideas of how you think God should work, and receive from Him a better way: the way of healing, the way of reconciliation and restoration, the way of meaning and purpose, the way of of hope and belonging – the way of Jesus.”
I want to open my eyes wide this Christmas season for more signs of God’s unexpected love. I want to see beyond the tradition I’m used to and discover both new and ancient ways that God’s heart is being revealed. Who knows? I might find them in my next door neighbor or on Facebook or at the mall or even – no, it’s possible! – at church.
What other upside down elements do you see in the Christmas story?