Did I Just Say That?
Reflections and ruminations from respected Unity reverends
Do you ever hear words emanating from your lips and,
in a nanosecond of surprise afterward, think, Did I really
just say that? The many such sentences I never imagined
I would utter in my lifetime include this one: “My friend
shot a cop.” Yet on Easter Sunday, a dear friend I’ve
known for more than two decades fired a gun, injuring a
I have been her friend, mentor, sister, 12-step sponsor,
and even the biggest pain in her neck during her many
years of recovery, yet she has returned to the nightmare
of addiction. Fortunately, the officer is recovering, while
my friend sits in solitary confinement, likely in prison
for life, experiencing what I can only imagine is a dark,
After getting the call, I searched online and found
a press release about the shooting on the state police’s
Facebook page. More than 700 comments all expressed
the same sentiment: Let her fry. Some raged at how there’s
no death penalty in that state and expressed hope that
she would rot in jail. Others complained about their tax
money being spent on housing this demon for the next
30 years. Name-calling, death threats, callousness, and
violent sarcasm abounded. I was witnessing a corner of
the world riddled with anger and hate. To say my heart
was broken is an understatement.
I don’t excuse or condone my friend’s actions, and she
will suffer consequences. Yet at the same time, I can’t ignore
the mercy alive within me. I don’t believe it is my job to
think that one person deserves to be seen as the Christ but
not another person. My faith invites me to ask, “Can I see
someone who has done an evil act as deserving of mercy
and compassion, while still knowing the voice of justice is
every bit as relevant?” Of course, at times I fall short.
I was gravely ill two years ago, and while on life support
I danced through the veil between life and death. This
experience left me permanently altered—I could see into
the worlds of those most unlike me. About a year ago, while
having coffee with a white nationalist in a peacemaking
effort, I found myself saying, “Yes, I value that too,” as
he spoke about the importance of the love of his family.
I never imagined I would ever express any level of heart
connection with a white nationalist. Yet if I really believe
I should follow the directive to “love thy neighbor,” then I
must demonstrate it for there to be any hope of healing the
pain, hate, and violence we see around us.
It’s time to add to our list of “surprising things I never
thought I’d say in this lifetime” with words that build up
life and restore our inherent (if often hidden) goodness—
words resulting from moving beyond our comfort zone.
This isn’t easy and doesn’t necessarily feel good, but no
one ever guaranteed the spiritual practice of loving your
neighbor would be.
If we believe we are made in the image and likeness of
God, with all the potential to be the Christ here on earth,
then what does that mean if we aren’t willing to be that
image and likeness? I hope whenever we hear ourselves
wondering, Did I just say that? we recognize the astonishing
words we have just spoken as a sign of true healing.
I CAN’T IGNORE THE MERCY
ALIVE WITHIN ME.
I DON’T BELIEVE IT IS MY
JOB TO THINK THAT ONE
PERSON DESERVES TO BE
SEEN AS THE CHRIST BUT
NOT ANOTHER PERSON.
REV. KELLY ISOLA IS AN ORGANIZATIONAL
CONSULTANT, A TEACHER, AND THE
COAUTHOR OF WHO HAVE YOU COME HERE
TOBE? (THE Q EFFECT PUBLICATIONS,
2010). VISIT KELLYISOLA.COM.