By Fr. John Abdalah
If Neil Sedaka is right, and “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” what would we say about making up? Making up sure isn’t easy, but it is what Christianity and life are all about. Christ took on ﬂesh to restore fallen mankind, broken up, to God. Jesus was born to join that which is separated together again. He came to heal people, broken and sick by sin, and restore them to oneness with Him.
Making up requires humility. We must put our pride, fears of rejection and embarrassment aside. We must be loving and vulnerable to enter the difﬁcult process of making up. We must overcome our fear of rejection and of being hurt, to open our hearts to restore and be restored to each other. Lent is a great time to make up. The Church, our mother and nurturer, gives us this time every year to forgive each other and to journey home to the path of holiness and wholeness which is in Christ. She gives us a way to break free of our hurts, distractions and sin to come home. She does this through invitations to fervent prayer, frequent gatherings, fasting, education and alms-giving. She calls us away from contemplation of ourselves, self-indulgent behaviors concerning food and time, to a Lenten journey to Pascha, the Passover into heaven which, in Christ, is at hand!
I confess to you that when I have been hurt, I am cautious around those who have hurt me. I am afraid to trust those who have disappointed me and worry about being vulnerable in their presence. How terrible it would be for me if God were like me! He doesn’t run away; rather He gives opportunities to start again. He makes up with me and regenerates our relationship.
The enemy of making up is pride. Pride says that I don’t need God and I don’t need to make up. Pride tells me that I can make it on my own. Pride tells me to be self-sufﬁcient and to be strong. The truth is that not being right with God makes us outside of a relationship with God. That puts us in bad company. Further, the truth is that not making up with each other puts us outside of God’s grace as well. We can’t be loving God and sharing His love while we are busy being angry with each other, and hateful to each other.
A second enemy of making up is fear. I am afraid that if I make up, I will look weak and you may take advantage of me. If I stand with God, I need not fear you or anyone else. God is God, and His choice to love and hold me is enough for me.
A crazy fear of mine is that God will want me to do something outrageous if I make up with Him. I keep this fear even though God has never called me to do anything that was negative or self-destructive before. I hold this fear even though God has never hurt anyone I know. He calls me to be me, nothing more or less. This makes my fear neurotic (not based in reality, or at least exaggerated), though knowing it to be neurotic doesn’t take it away. I need to hear His word, Fear not!
The closer we are to God, the more we see our sins, and this is uncomfortable. Maybe that is why I have trouble making up. Nevertheless, God is God, He expresses Truth and He loves me and calls me home. He wants to make up with me.
This Lent is the Lent I choose to make up with God and those whom I have offended and are offending. Don’t be too surprised if you get a call from me asking if we can make up with each other and with God. If you don’t hear from me, simply know that I ask your forgiveness and invite you to make up with me and with God. I ask this, knowing how “making up is hard to do.”