Last week I spoke to an old friend that I hadn’t talked to in almost six years. The simple act of saying hello brought back a small wave of emotion that I did not expect. When I reconnect with someone after many years, a period of self-reflection tends to take place. Many times I will reflect on what I did to cause the separation to occur, or what circumstances may have occurred that caused the drift. If you know me at all, it probably would not surprise you that I tend to take a hard look at myself from time to time; the popular phrase “I am my harshest critic” rings true for me.
If you have listened to our podcast, then you may have heard me tell my story in the second episode. I candidly discussed my battles with alcohol and depression as well as what brought me out of the funk I was in. The part I didn’t get much into involved losing friends because of it. I unintentionally pushed some very good friends of mine away with my desperation for companionship and acceptance. See, when you feel inadequate as a person, you are looking for any type of validation you can find, and when you are putting that burden on people, and they fail to deliver what you are expecting (as every human does), then you find ways to use them as a scapegoat.
So why does this come to mind after simply saying hello to an old friend?
There has been a theme that has surfaced in my journey in discovering what spirituality is to me, and that theme is, “Would you sit with them at the table?” Would you have dinner or communion with someone even if you do not agree with them? Or to take it a little farther, would you sit at the table with your enemy? This is an issue that comes to the forefront of my mind now with the political and social climate we are currently in. Would I be able to share the table with someone who is a hardcore Trump supporter? Would I be able to have dinner with someone who believes white privilege is not a real thing? Would I be able to have communion with a White Supremacist?
I will admit a couple of the questions above seem silly. I understand that it seems petty to ask myself if I would eat with a Trump supporter, but the reality is, sometime I struggle with this. I know some amazing people who support Trump and do not believe that white privilege exists. So maybe the better question is what makes me hesitate when I try to answer this question. Why do I seem to look at someone who does not agree with me politically as if they only make terrible decisions all the time? Do I need to have someone I perceive to be an enemy in order to better reflect my superior world view or empathy for the marginalized?
I think the better question is would Jesus commune with a person who is considered to be his enemy? If you are like me, you may answer yes very quickly to this question; however, think about what this means. Jesus constantly baffled the people around him by routinely eating dinner with the people who were considered inferior by society. He even begged for God to forgive the people who crucified him. This is the example set for those who claim to follow him, yet we as followers of Jesus routinely fail to invite certain groups or individuals to the table.
And what is it that causes us to consider anyone inferior or unworthy? It is my opinion that this is not something that people are born with. Biases when it comes to race, class, gender, or even political affiliation are consciously and subconsciously taught to us over time. I think that is why when you watch young children playing, they rarely discriminate. They are willing to play with any child that is just around or that might have a toy they like.
So with that in mind, what contributed to the distance between my friend and me?
The reality is I do not really know why. I know that due to my own insecurities, I projected some hurt I was feeling onto that person and convinced myself that it was because of their actions that I was feeling pain. This of course was not true, but it allowed me to not look inward at what was truly going on inside myself; however, it is my hope and prayer that I may become more like Jesus and be willing to humble myself and share the table with those who may oppose me.
Would you be willing to share communion with someone who considers you an enemy?