July 19, 2015 Gathering – “Turning”
This week, we talked about the concept of “turning.” The idea, from relational theorists Krasner and Joyce, is that when we’re hurt in a relationship by something someone says or does, we often respond by “turning away from the relationship.”
That is, if we’re unable to speak our side for fear that the other person will get angry, hurt, defensive, disrespectful, etc., we might not speak our truth. Or, if after being hurt, we refuse or are unable to then hear or give merit to the other person’s side, we might not allow them to speak their truth. Either way, we have “turned away” from the relationship, cutting off the ability for it to be as strong as it could be.
“Turning,” or “turning toward” the other person, then, is a practice of becoming aware of the ways in which we have turned away from them, and committing to the challenge of speaking our truth and hearing theirs, to find the healing that comes from relating “face-to-face”, “truth-to-truth.”
This, then, could be a new understanding of what repentance means (literally translated “to turn” or “to turn again”). Repentance, then, is not just saying “I’m sorry” to a person or to God, but is a conscious awareness of how we have cut off our relationship and a commitment to “turn back towards” that person, or God. When I turn back toward and reconnect with the relationship, I am repenting.
Kraser and Joyce also suggest that we can have powerful moments come into our lives, often after a long period of darkness, when we choose “turning [toward]” as a way of life. We gain a sense of clarity about what it means to live “facing” others at all times. They suggest that this is often what religions mean when they talk about a “conversion experience.” When we experience a deep understanding of turning toward God, our lives are “converted” into ones with a powerful sense of relationship with God.
The blessing, then, is that God is always turned toward us, even when we turn away, unable to speak or hear the truths that exist between us and God. In grace, God waits and hopes for the time when we will re-turn. (No matter how many times it happens!)
Click the image below to read what we read together as a group to begin our discussion (opens in a separate browser window):