I am proud of myself for a lot of reasons. I have grown a lot (not physically, Ha!) and done the work to learn more about why people believe what they do and to heal from my own trauma. I am back in the world of church and soccer, albeit differently, and facing what I never thought I could face again–trusting a community and trying again. I am not doing it perfectly–trauma still shows up. I am so relieved knowing it is supposed to. Part of creating a safer environment is not to make it perfect but to make it safe. Where there is room for errors and room to grow. Mistakes are viewed as avenues for growth, not destruction.
I saw several friends from my past last night and talked to two of them. Gosh, there was once such a strong connection that is not there anymore, but love remains. I am healing from this loss that feels more present every time I am at a soccer game by listening to podcasts about friendship breakups. We have treated romantic relationship breakups as the only kind of hard breakup, but that is not true. The thing with romantic relationships, especially when married, we know more of the rules. You know when you are cheating on someone or stepping out in a way that is not honoring the person you are committed to. Friendship does not operate like that. There is no real universal definition of a friend, and trying to operate as friends with two different definitions of what that means will inevitably lead to chaos and heartbreak. And worst of all, we have had no language to express grief for that kind of loss.
Nothing I am doing is to spite my past. My past made me who I am and i love it all the more for that. I do not look back with anger anymore, I look back with a tenderness that can only be felt when you have gone through the anger and pain because you loved.
These systems we have created were never designed for us to stay friends. Club soccer has been a money-making machine and has no problem cutting people out of the system for the win. Most of the coaches are not even that highly trained to give the training that is needed and that is why they look for players who will give them the win to make them look good and keep their job. It is part of the empire-making process that leaves everyone homeless. This is why that Romans reading stuck out so much for me yesterday. That is exactly what is happening in so many systems.
I am looking forward to studying Romans as a homemaking letter in an empire that seeks to separate people and demand uniformity. We are natural home wreckers and this is a letter calling for reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Christ was the counter-narrative to Caesar. It is asking for a new way to live despite the empire. Defying a system that calls the bad news of eliminating people as good news and fears the power of friendship. A system that will throw you away when you do not play by the rules and cares not for your years of service or the deep care you gave in serving it.
This is why it is so hard for people to leave systems they know are wrong. The human need and desire to belong are so strong. We get comfortable eliminating what we know to be true to keep the peace (which is no peace at all) with the community. Too much can be lost if that truth is spoken.
I am proud that I am still here. I have felt the loss and have spent time laying in the rubble looking at the stars. What remains is what is true. This is why I got back up. The truth keeps me going. It keeps me believing there is life and another way despite the bad news of empire and how easy it is to fall into believing this is just the way it is.