A person I follow on twitter (and almost every pastor I have ever heard) says “I might have done what you said I did, but I’m not who you said I am”.
Let that marinate.
That’s a quote that can go either way if you think about it. When a pastor/church person says it, they are likely separating an ugly/frowned upon act from the essence of the person. Just because we all trip and fall now and then, it doesn’t mean that a mistake is all that we are or all we will ever be. Every mistake gives us the opportunity to learn and move past it.
Warm and fuzzy interpretation aside, let’s get to the flip side of the coin. What about that man (or woman) who has been loving, attentive, a seeming angle in disguise, someone who you can say you have thanked your Heavenly Father for at least one good time? What happens when you find out he or she aren’t the person you said he or she was?
Let me pose a hypo (or a hypothetical for all of you without lawyer friends): Girl meets boy, they learn each other, boy has committment issues, girl more or less understand that, girl and boy decide to stop dating romantically, but are still friends. Fast forward: girl finds out boy was married while they are dating.
I’ll wait while you re-read that section. Ready? Now, that case does qualify as an “I did what you said I did, but I’m not who you think I am” example. That man was not who she said he was (even though he did the things she said she did). Part of the reason that is true is because he didn’t tell her everything there was to know ( another prime example of a lie by omission). While he certainly might have his reasons for keeping the truth quiet, he didn’t give her an opportunity to know all there was to know, to make a fully informed decision about whether or not she wanted to allow a courtship.
No matter what his reasons were, I am sure he didn’t think of the consequences. Maybe he never thought they would go much further than exchanging numbers? He probably never imagined that they would come to know each other as well as they did. No matter how much we claim to have control, we certainly can’t control the way our emotions develop.
Even though I am about to play devil’s advocate (and even though I started to play it in the last paragraph), please understand that I would tell this joker about himself in.the.drop.of.a.hat. I wouldn’t blink twice, and I wouldn’t feel bad. Still, there is a part of me that believes that almost no one is beyond redemption (that’s the place this next little bit is going to come from).
The man in this hypo could easily find himself as a pulpit example on any Sunday morning. Sure, he’s an adulterer and a liar. Still, if no sin is greater than another, the lie he told is not who he is, especially if he has learned from the hurt he caused.
I’ll say this though; if he has any idea of the pain he caused, I hope it doesn’t take him a long time to come to that understanding.