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Theology in the Trenches

By Kathleen Kjolhaug 


It’s sin, you know…murmuring. Confessing it makes me aware, yet I stumble. The slope is a slippery one as it often times morphs into something more palatable...more acceptable if you will. I can swallow words like venting, or letting loose a little steam, or masking it as concern, or the free flowing “secrets” shared in order to build friendship circles with those whom you supposedly “really” trust to not say anything else.

The other day, I came home and murmured. I “vented” to my husband. Weary from his happenings during the day, he listened, but not very intently. Soon, he looked up at me and reiterated what’s I’d said. As he repeated what he’d heard me say, a disclaimer I did make clarifying that what he’d said was well off the mark. As I saw his shoulders sag, I knew that it was much more than “venting” I’d done; I’d caused him to stumble into a skewed view of another. 

I confessed out loud what I’d done and profusely apologized. Instead of building another up, I’d torn down by murmuring. I’d pounced like hungry prey the moment he’d stepped in the door rather than allowing him to enter into a sanctuary where he could find respite.

Truth-be-told, I’m not sure he thought it was that big of a deal as he continued doing what he does each evening: chores, a few home office duties, steering the dog where she needed to be, and flipping on the weather channel. We live pretty low key, but that’s the key. But I knew.

You see…threads connecting any given story are what we often fail to consider. We strive to become better brothers and sisters in Christ. Each of us is growing. Some are in the infant stages who haven’t a clue what that even looks like and in order to come along side them, or be invited into their holy space means to be able to offer anything but murmurings.  

It’s not our job to transform others but neither is it to transform them into something they are not based on our limited perception of what we see or what we think we see. Grace and mercy must be at the forefront of what we offer others and it cannot be in the form of murmuring.

Philippians 4:8-9 suggests how to better respond. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable and right, and pure and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from Me…everything you heard from Me and saw Me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

I for one need practice. So what do I do when I stumble and fall? I confess my sins and “He who is faithful and just will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).  And as the song goes, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Amen.