Friday, July 16

What it means to be faithful

I’m not going to go on an expository ramble on what it means to be faithful, not today. No, this is pretty much definitely a rant.

It always bothered me that faithfulness was usually defined by its testing, trials, and breakages. I hope most people are familiar with the story of the prodigal son and his brother, and everyone knows at least one couple (or has seen a good dozen TV shows or films about) being broken because of infidelity or describing what it is like to come out of a tragic relational labyrinth, rise above it, and still be able to love wholeheartedly. It seemed to me as a girl that the only way to know whether someone was faithful was to see them be unfaithful (and this doesn’t apply just to romance; I mean the fathers who promise to spend time with their kids, the friends who promise they’ll be there for you, the honorable word of businessmen, etc.).

A story: I was young to be in college and my ideals then were less defined and less weathered than they are now, when I was in a literature class and we were required to read Kate Chopin’s short story ‘The Storm’. In it, a storm separates a woman at her house from her husband, who is nearby at a mercantile or shop. While he is away, the woman’s lover arrives at the house, makes passionate love to her and then leaves when the storm is over. The storm brings life to the land around them exactly, as the author points out, the way that the infidelity of the wife brought a renewed love and affection for her husband. Wait--what... ? What kind of a world is this? My instructor read the sexually explicit parts with bliss and enthusiasm, approving of the infidelity and sneering at self-sacrifice.

It occurred to me at this point that you can break a thing irrevocably, just to find out what it is. And suddenly I saw it happening everywhere, and I became very angry, very afraid, and very protective of those I loved. There are certain things that should never be done. I’m still very loyal (dogged, stubborn, set, clench-jawed) to my friends and family about that sort of thing, so that the conversation which prompted this entry really actually made my blood boil. Or just simmer a little in a very uncomfortable way.

My itch: the faithful few are taken for granted while prodigals are glorified. I don’t mean that I wish people would either stay or leave the faith in a very black and white way. I do rejoice at the return of someone who has gone astray. But prodigals and whores who make one step in the right direction are in the minds of many more saintly than those who actually make good choices on a consistent basis. As if it is somehow easy for good people to be good?! To refrain from evil is an excellent goal, and also repentance when we do commit evil. But let us not sin so that grace may abound. And let us encourage one another so that we do not lose heart or our resolve.

Maybe I am just tired. I don’t want fame or undue happiness or an official day dedicated to the faithful, but I want the truth to be told, and I want justice and I want grace. “And I want it now,” says a small, echoey, nasal voice in the back of my head.

I really want things to be right. For everybody. Right now. Come, Lord Jesus. Come soon.


Marielle said...

I just stumbled upon your post, and though it was a rant it was beautiful. And it was very much what I needed.

Thank you!

rika said...

I am glad it was what you needed, and that you saw beauty in it. I know it is a decent feeling, but I'm not always sure I express myself in the most respectful way, or the most loving way. Grr! :)