The One-Woman Justice League12:43 PM
Once again, my strong sense of justice got me in trouble.
I get justice. It makes so much sense to me. It’s just. It took me a long time to associate the word “grace” with a positive image. I thought it was a lily-livered concept sugar-coating the world’s idea of tolerance. You can only imagine how much I struggled with the gospel: grace? For me? But how is that just? I eventually reconciled the two—“reconciled” as in “acknowledged how beyond me this all was and just sat mouth gaping in awe at God’s consistent justice and persistent mercy all at the same time.”
I’m not one to actively snub my nose at grace anymore. I am still one whose Justice Radar picks up on every tiny little injustice. You can see the blaring red lights in my eyes. I’m not at all happy to see an injustice on my watch. And, to be fair to myself, I wasn’t always responding to Emergency Injustice Calls just from my own wounded ego. I stood up for siblings bullied by siblings. I called my parents out on occasional unfair treatment to a problem child. I fought the Great Church War of 2012 where bad stuff happened and people got kicked out without a fair hearing. Sometimes I’m a little too vocal, a little a lot too tactless. I’m not usually diplomatic. I’m persuasive—or try to be. Here are the facts, here’s the right thing to do, just do it already. No excuses.
I’m not always the favorite person ever. Which I totally get. I oftentimes wish I could shut myself up and stick me in a closet where those blaring red lights can chill for a second. Actually, I learned to zip my lips. Keeping in blunt attacks against injustice is like the feeling you get before you vomit your guts out in a Walgreens toilet—you know it’s coming, you know it’s not going to pretty, and you know you can only clamp a hand over your mouth and run for dear life. Right in the middle of a conversation/argument/fight-of-the-century, I’ll shut up and leave. It looks ungracious, it looks rude, it looks resentful, but honestly, it’s the only way to avoid regurgitating all my hatred—yes, hatred—toward injustice right into this particular situation.
I’m working on this—the in-your-anger-do-not-sin part. It’s as ugly as injustice itself.
I didn’t always realize this. My radar was tuned to situational injustice—as in, what other people did. I recognized my own injustice, of course. It just seemed pointless to put out my own fire since the blazing fire that lit mine started the whole thing. This meant I learned to respond to injustice with injustice.
Case in point: This past semester introduced one of the worst cases of situational injustice I faced. Name-calling. Accusations. Continued accusations even after I responded with truth. Unfairness. Playing favorites. A widening circle of accusers. What I truly believed God wanted me to do became drowned beneath a loud chorus of attackers. It wasn’t really that dramatic. Maybe. It felt like that. It felt like that scene in Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” where she’s smashing the expensive car with a golf club and her soon-to-be-ex runs out with an expression of total disbelief and horror. Observe:
Everyone beat on my expensive car while I dashed out to save it with the same horrified look. Then the beating turned around onto me. I wasn’t as clueless as Taylor Swift’s soon-to-be-ex. I wasn’t purposefully retributive, but I definitely hid in my closet wounded and bitter. I wasn’t actually as bitter at the people as I was capable of. I was mostly angry with God.
Backstory: I don’t believe being angry with God is a normal Christian emotion. I never was angry with God that I can remember. Mind-boggled into intense questioning, yes. Weepy consternation, yes. Anger, never.
I was angry with God nonetheless. If I told you the actual injustices, you would laugh at me. But I wasn’t angry that I hadn’t got my way. I wasn’t angry that I’d been hurt. I was angry because He clearly revealed in His Word what the best situation was, I had tried to push for that situation, and He didn’t follow through. How just was that? How just was it to say in His inspired Word do this because this is the best thing for you and then heap on this entire mess that not only killed my doing what He’d told me to but also just unnecessarily hurt me? How was it just to say one thing is the best and then expect me to see the opposite thing as best?
That’s why I was angry. Injustice, again. And I called God out on it like I’d called everybody else out.
The awkward thing about that is God can’t be unjust. I’d never experienced something where I felt God double-crossed me. And He didn’t really double-cross me. But He did. But He didn’t. I was furious. The mere mention of the subject, the mere suggestion that the simple solution was God-loves-you-and-this-is-best-for-you threw me into an internal rage. I knew God loved me. I knew “this was best for me.” What I didn’t know and what nobody could tell me was how there could be two “bests for me”: that revealed in His Word and that revealed in a circumstance I couldn’t change. That didn’t make any sense. Two plus two didn’t equal five. There could be only one best. There’s no such thing as “best” and “bestest.” Just best.
Long story continued, I began meditating on David in exile. (The Spirit can out-muscle my anger.) And I immediately began identifying with him: he was anointed the king while Saul was still king. Saul-the-current-king began hunting him down for no reason. People turned on him for no reason. And David could have killed Saul at least two times to fulfill God’s will of David becoming king and vindicating him from his enemies. But there was also the will of God to not kill God’s anointed. So many conflicting “bests.”
David’s greatest struggle was my greatest struggle. David wanted to vindicate himself, to save himself, to set God’s will into motion—not because David was an arrogant, selfish man but because he cared about justice. He recognized the incredible injustice Saul wreaked on David’s life—bizarrely pursuing his life, giving his wife away to another man, repenting of hunting David and then going right back again to the chase. God continually gave Saul into David’s hands. And David continually refused to kill him.
God can bear the tension of multiple “wills of God” because His overarching will is, ironically, just. God cares about every single injustice against me—whether it’s an actual injustice from a person or a perceived injustice from God. And He will vindicate me for every single injustice I’ve suffered. Key word being He—He will vindicate me. I will not save myself. God will. I will not vindicate myself. God will.
So what do I do? I leave the circumstantial injustice to God to deal with. In the face of injustice, I can only act justly.
This is the new level of justice I learned in the past couple of days: God cares more about justice than I do. He will vindicate me for every wrong against me, in His own time, in His own way, and often without my help. If I want to care about justice as much as God, I need to trust Him to save me—which means swallowing down my desire to set people straight and humbly waiting for God to vindicate me. It means handling every injustice justly. God allows unjust things to happen, and God requires me to be just at all times. God will redeem every unjust thing that happens, and God will discipline me for every unjust thing I do in response to injustice.
Basically, God’s form of justice stretches further than I can reach and more minutely than I’m comfortable with: He wants me to respond with trust, obedience, and justice as much as He wants my circumstances to be just. It will all even out in the end. And it’s all balanced right now, somehow, because God is just. He won’t necessarily take away the unjust circumstance, just as He let Saul chase David around. But He will redeem it. After all, David eventually became king.