When Being Late is Good   Leave a comment

I am in the D.C. metropolis right now (Arlington, actually) to get a passport and visa to India.  As you may have read in an earlier post, India was my spiritual Titanic, and preparing to return there has opened up some very deep gashes that I have tried hard to ignore for the last decade.  I was already scheduled for an appointment at the DC office a month ago because I thought my passport was over 15 years old.  The morning I was to leave for Washington, I discovered a newer passport in my “legal id” folder and cancelled my appointment, only to realize some time later that my unmarried name was in my current passport and had to be updated.

While I was still trying to deal with the stormy emotions rising out of my impending trip to Calcutta, I banged up our car and was handed a warrant of arrest for hit-and-run.  For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to settle my quaking mind and heart.  It really was a huge hit to my sense of vulnerability to a completely unpredictable world.

I left at 6:10 a.m. this morning to come here to the District for my noon appointment at the passport agency.  I’ve barely left enough time to get the passport, Indian visa, and plane ticket and complete the trip to Kolkata before my library work starts in late August.  As I drove this morning I thought about my stupidity in not realizing I had to change my name on the passport.  I was tempted to berate myself for waiting so long to take the necessary steps in preparing.  I know it will be hard for my Indian brothers if I can’t go until the winter school break.  I was stupid, I was late, it was my fault, others might suffer… it was a prime circumstance for shaming myself, something that would, in the past, have consumed my whole trip to D.C.  That practice of self-shaming often made me more careful and conscientious in the future, but in the process damaged my soul, pushing me away from grace into legalism.

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But this time I discovered with some pleasure and relief that I was not castigating myself for my stupidity and lateness, I was purposely seeing myself with as much compassion as I would feel for another in that situation.  Yes, I am more scatterbrained than most.  I easily miss or forget or misconstrue some pretty obvious things that most others would probably notice.  That is who I am.  I take steps to compensate, but when I fail anyway, it is not from malice or negligence.  Being “stupid” in that way is one of my weaknesses, and it is going to trip me up more often than it will most others.  My friends will need to exercise more patience towards me in this regard as I must exercise more patience for them in other regards.

Allowing myself the human right to work through my high-decibel emotions over the criminal charge was an important healthy direction for me.  In the past I would have denied my own needs in favor of others, told my emotions to shut up, and marched forward with grit and determination.  In my experience, peace and good do not spring from such a mindset.  I gave myself the time I needed to settle down before facing another emotionally charged task here in D.C.  My coming late here was a very positive step in my learning to rest in God’s grace for my weaknesses.  Instead of shame, it is a joy to see myself moving further into the ocean of grace, and I trust God to care for what outcomes may follow.

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Posted July 20, 2011 by janathangrace in Uncategorized

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