The Log in my Eye
Patricia Vollmann-Stock attended the Centre for Christian Studies’ 2-week intensive, Learning on Purpose, which took place in Victoria, B.C. from June 11-23, 2018.
Our group of 12 men and women of various ages had the privilege to meet and hear stories from two people who work at Our Place Society, an outreach ministry in downtown Victoria. Shirley and Carlos have both had lives filled with pain and addiction, but each overcame their challenges and are now beacons of hope to others who take time to hear their stories of redemption and love. I reflect on a biblical passage that came to mind, Titus 3:5 – “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Shirley is First Nations, about 54 years young, and suffered from intergenerational abuse due to the treatment of first nation’s people from generation to generation. As she courageously told her story, sharing the intimate details of her struggles, I felt that she was truly teaching us about the Kingdom of God. She walked us through the discomfort of her story with grace and dignity. Something “more” happens when you are truly present with another human being and listening without judgement. She has been able to overcome alcoholism and tell truths about how it affected not only her life but the life of her children and grandchildren. There was a feeling of calm as she shared her words. John 17:17- “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
Carlos came from Argentina. His story revealed a lot of truths about our society. Carlos explained that if you do not have money or high social status you are treated differently than those who do. No money, equals no access to resources.
Carlos was able to touch our hearts with his story. He is a big fan of Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Carlos reminded us that if you see something about someone else that disturbs you it should awaken your own feelings of self-awareness or as Carl Jung puts it. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Carlos explained that it took him many years of self-discovery to realize that things needed to change in his life. He told us that we all need to invite our own demons to tea so that we can understand other people’s suffering. The bible also tells us this in Matthew 7:3-5, “why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in our eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will clearly see to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Both stories evoked something in me. With Shirley it was about breaking the cycle. Addictive behavior that is caused by trauma and passed down through generations can be ended. Prayer and possibly counselling in my own experience can change the way I will deal with my children and grandchildren. Carlos story had me examining my emotions and reflecting on what it means to have my demons over for tea so that I can have more empathy for those living on the street.