“Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them. Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God. And so here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving. If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing…” ― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace
I have often eluded to “our pain.” Some have asked for the root cause. What makes this process hard?
It’s difficult to explain I suppose. Mostly because when someone asks…we seek to offer words that exclude any specifc actions from the cause of the pain. And it’s not an avoidance of hard conversations…it is the true posture of our heart. We don’t see people as pain. We hold no grudge. To be fully disclosed, we did have some unmet expectations…but those are not the root of our pain.
So…here’s my attempt to clarify our grief.
Eight years ago we entered a covenant with a people called New Beginnings Church. If you have been around us long…you know we don’t give much stock to thinking about the church as a mere organization or ourselves as employees. We have sought to be joined together in a “what is mine is yours” kind of way. The funny thing about covenant…just like a marriage…it requires mutual partnership. It requires self-giving, other-preferring love. It requires a community who sees itself bound together to even be a community.
Our pain is rooted in the breaking of this covenant. Like a divorce it creates painful memories of “what ifs.” “Should have” and “could have been” become common words of grief. We daily look into the mirror of responsibility and see our own. Shame creeps in knowing others speculate about the why. Thoughts of failure and feelings that we weren’t enough soon follow. To break covenant is painful. For covenant to be broken is painful and sometimes confusing. No matter the reasons. It’s just hard. And it should be.
I won’t apologize for our pain. Because it ought to hurt. We would see the years as wasted if it didn’t hurt.
Love demands a risk of pain. Love creates inevitable pain. The hurt of love is the strength of love. To find ourselves accepting an end to a relationship as we have known it for eight years…it just hurts. I don’t have any other words to describe it. Love hurts. And it’s the root of our pain.