Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Tonight I was part of a small group talking about the concept of redemption. Particularly the concept that every experience we encounter in life has redemptive qualities if viewed in the light of faith.

Quite honestly, I struggled with the conversation. I held my tongue. I wanted to say, I don't know if I buy this.

Whether in my own life, or in the lives around me...there are experiences that are ugly. That hurt. That are tragic. I cannot see the redemptive value. Sure, one could argue that because of that experience I am more empathetic or I needed that experience to grow into the person I've become, blah, blah, blah....I'm not buying it. I'm not drinking the kool aid.

I think there are experiences in this life that have no value in and of themselves. Experiences that add pain or sorrow or hurt to our lives. Who knows what the value is 20 years from now? Who knows who we would become without that experience? To guess would be pure speculation.

How do you tell a child who was raped that perhaps that experience has some sort of redemptive value? It seems a pure slap in the face to me. How do you tell a child whose mother died in the bed with her that that experience is something that can be redemptive if only she lets God use that experience? It sounds so pollyannaish. So naive. So...just...wrong. It seems to me that saying that minimizes the experience, or perhaps suggests that we shouldn't acknowledge that evil exists, and at times invades our lives. It suggests that bad things happen to good people to teach them a lesson of some sort. So who chooses?

I'm not sure I can believe in a God who will choose to damage some people horribly so that they can see the redemption in the experience. I'm sure that the teacher didn't really mean that, but it seems a logical extension of the argument.

Perhaps it just hit too close to home. Or perhaps I'm having trouble seeing myself and my experiences as redemptive or worth being redeemed. Not sure.

To me, those experiences happened. They cannot be altered. I can only try to understand how I can move forward and not make mistakes because of those experiences. So that my life doesn't become a product of only the bad, but also the good. While that perhaps has value, the bad experience isn't what created the value.

This post isn't really complete. I have more to think about. And perhaps I need redemption more than I know.

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