Posted by: Renee | April 2, 2012


by Renee Sappington

My last blog post seems to have struck a chord with many of you, which makes me thankful I wrote it.  It never ceases to amaze me how when we let others in on our struggles, we are so often met with compassion, encouragement, and mutual vulnerability.  And when folks don’t necessarily know what to say or do, they offer a prayer to the One they believe will see us through our troubles.  I should pray more, for I often don’t know what to say or do!

I should also share my struggles and vulnerabilities more often, for while I may make some folks uncomfortable, I may also find others who really needed to hear it or have something important to give me for my journey.  There is healing power in speaking our truths, being heard, and truly listening to others.  I have felt and witnessed such healing in friendships and support group settings as well as the Sunday School class I’m a part of (aptly named Grace).  One of the healing moments that came to me this week was a comment by my friend Scott, “I share your experience of sadness when organizations or people fail to live up to their calling…and of course, we all do at times. If I had to sum up the meaning of life in one word, it would be: ‘redemption’.”  Thank you, Scott, for reminding me of the big picture. 

With that reminder of redemption came new meaning to Paul’s confidence that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” so “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 1:6 & 2:12).  Let me say, for me the fear and trembling isn’t about fearing God but about fearing the damage I can do even when I’m doing my best.  But I hold to the promise of redemption and believe it actually requires a partnership between me and God, and on the global scale, between us and God. 

I believe our souls are crying out for that redemption.  I had another luminous moment this week as I pitifully wondered if my Soul is actually masochistic – intentionally placing me in situations that hurt or challenge me – when all of a sudden I became fully aware that my Soul is infinite, my Soul knows it is created in the image of God, and my Soul is quite able to hold all the paradoxes of myself or any person or institution I’m in relationship with.   But my Soul dwells within a heart that gets hurt easily and a mind that can’t wrap itself around all that Life entails, so my feeble little mind and heart have to be stretched very slowly and gently in order to make room for my Soul to flourish.  I believe that stretching is the work of redemption.

Sometimes that stretching comes in the form of suffering but sometimes when I’m lucky it comes by way of gratitude.  That happened this week, too (seriously, thank you all for the prayers that surely played a part in all the grace-filled moments I experienced this week).  That gratitude came when I saw how many of our United Methodist clergy and leaders participated in the public dialogue regarding the immigration bill (HB-488) the state legislature is considering. No matter what grievances I have, there are always reasons for gratitude, too – a further testament to the paradoxes in all of us.  I look back on the past week and smile; it seems that all the way toward redemption is redemption!   

To sign a petition opposing MS HB-488, click here



  1. Thank you Renee for another thoughtful commentary. I share the “fear and trembling” in the same way you do…fear of failing to do the right thing. Then again, realizing that failure to do anything is itself sinful. So I plod along and do what I can, the best I can, when I can, asking my friends and God to forgive me when I let them down.

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