Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury

It's been coming for a while.

Following a recent leadership transition at the tippy-top of my wife's organization, things started shifting in ways that augured poorly.   Despite an amazing work ethic, a deep knowledge of her field, and a track record of turning around a struggling area of her organization, the missus found herself today on the wrong side of a restructuring.

A new CEO brought in a bevy of highly paid restructuring consultants, with the idea of totally changing the entire business model of the organization.  Everything about the organization, or so this new CEO overtly told everyone on staff, has sucked.  I'm going to save it by being the powerful transformative leader you poor pathetic sods have needed all along.

Lord knows that's not ever a good sign.  In congregational leadership literature, that's an almost guaranteed mark of a pastor who's going to leave wreck and ruin in their wake, but the corporate world hasn't clued in to that reality yet.  Nor have many churches, not to mention the board of one particular nonprofit membership organization.

So my wife's reward for years of dedication, long work hours and demonstrated excellence in delivering the core competency of the organization?  A pre-holiday pink slip, one of dozens done today in a typically corporate style, with the CEO hiding away while their flunkies do the firing.  

That, of course, leaves our household with a nontrivial 75% drop in income.  Not being fools, we've prepared for this possibility, and have a healthy war chest stashed away.   And my wife is a remarkably competent and capable human being, who will find an organization that appreciates that.  Still, it stings, and the anxiety of not knowing where things will head is deep, despite the kind whisper of my Master's voice in my ear.

It also leaves me pondering the spiritual challenge of the day: forgiveness.  Having a heart of forgiveness towards those who have harmed you is absolutely central to the Christian life, and it's something I find I can practice without too much strain.   If you strike me, turning the other cheek is easy.  It is an act that defies both your anger and my own, and that refuses to let brokenness define being.

What I have found considerably harder is finding that heart of Gospel forgiveness for those who have harmed others, particularly those I love.   When someone harms my wife, or my child, I find forgiveness...harder.  Having watched the tears and the dismay of the last few months, my reaction is more primal, more feral.  Mess with my family?  I want your bloody head on the end of a pike.   I want the sky above your driveway to fill with eagles, which descend upon you in a shrieking cloud with razor sharp talons extended.  I want there to be a thunderclap, and a smoking pair of shoes where once you stood.  I don't feel merciful.  I feel as forgiving as a slighted Roma matriarch.  Even the fires of hell seem somehow inadequately hot.

Which is why it is good I am not God.

I remind myself, of course, to think systemically, and to understand the complex underlying dynamics that go into every human action.  I remind myself of the importance of looking towards the future in hope, and letting go of the things that cannot be changed.

And I remind myself that, not being God, I am not the one who is the measure of justice.  It is not for me to understand the balance.  That is best left to the Maker of things, whose capacity for both grace and justice...thankfully...exceed my own.