What To Do?
I detest the company of evildoers, and I don’t sit with wicked people. I wash my hands – they are innocent! – Psalm 26:5-6a (CEB)
I started the day mad, chewing on the wrongs of someone else. Then I considered what I might do in response. My gut reaction tends to be “flight”: to figure out what can I quit or leave (or slam shut) to show my displeasure or disapproval, to show how deeply “I detest the company of evildoers.” I look back, though, and remember times I reacted to a communal injury by fleeing, and I can see that my decision hurt me, or hurt innocent parties, while having zero impact whatsoever on the deserving target of my anger.
Were my hands washed? Were they innocent? What to do? What to do…
“I don’t sit with wicked people,” claims the psalmist, but sometimes, often, just going to church and sitting down with an average group of people means we’re doing exactly that. They’re sitting with us and our wickedness, too. And the challenge and the beauty of living in community, at its best, is that the connection we care about having to one another offers the opportunity to hold each other accountable.
The harm done by the person whose actions I’m mad about today is real and is causing a widening circle of damage. The honest truth is my running away or huffily washing my hands of the situation won’t help anyone. So I’m going to take note of my gut reaction but not let it rule me. I’m going to breathe and pray and take more than a minute to listen for God before I decide how to respond.
Holy One, you know why we’re mad. Help us to see what to do. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.