The past few weeks, I have been assaulted by inspiration. Inspirations to write, to work, to meet and to generally just invest fully into my life. Thus, I have a hefty list of projects that I am chomping at the bit to pursue. And I'm excited. They're vast and are nonsensically disconnected to one another, but I feel as if i do not hop in, I will miss something grand that God may have for me by being a bit haphazard.
One of those involves this blog. I have found myself in multiple recent conversations with people about church. Asking questions and seeing wonderful beauty from my dear friends and their perspectives. And with their permission and grace, I am going to venture to share some of them here. I have requested these particular people because I trust them and their journeys, I see them living well, and they are people who have affected me in a way that surpasses mere friendship. I welcome the opportunity to introduce them to you if you do not know them.
My hope with this series is one thing and one thing only. To let the common themes of church breathe and for God to speak for Himself through us. I do not expect or hope to find one glaring "right" way of doing things. I pray the beauty of language and journey, emotion and perspective reign through. I pray we are affected by one another in enriching ways.
That's what I have for you to look forward to. A break from me, space to hear very beautiful people's perspectives about a hard tension.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
I am prefacing this post with the following disclaimer. I am a mess, thus everything that spills out of me on any given day could either be brilliance or nonsense, and will almost inherently be simply incomplete. I can fool myself an others into thinking I am more organized than I am, but truly, to know me is to see my glaring inconsistencies and general disheveled-ness.
This disclaimer comes because the thoughts I am to pen this morning are fragmented, complicated and underdeveloped. They are still in the larva stage of existence. And they are about communal living. A topic most people have much more figured out and are far enough along in to pursue in amazingly beautiful ways. Basically, all y'all are a lot more wise than I.
I have lived in Kansas City about a year now. And in that year, I have met, remet, stared at from afar, etc. many people, some to stick, some not. And when facing these people, I have noticed a paradoxical and two-fold fear.
1) I am not interesting enough for anyone to get to know outside of a casual setting
2) Those who would get to know me outside of that are going to fail me so best not to try at all
Both of these are wrought with insecurity and debilitation. And both have damaged me. Inherently, these two trails of thought when played out together leave me alone, resulting in either an aching for relationship or an arrogant insistence to perpetuate this so not to be incapable of being by myself....all in the name of independence.
In recent months, I have seen so many errors in this my head is spinning. The first and most glaring fact to be that to be Christian is to love people. While God is the absolute, I AM. We are the feet of that, and for me to extricate my life from others is to extricate from a big part of Himself. To not live amidst other people in a way that goes beyond a hello at Quay ruins us all of the chance to see God be big. My mother, quoting some genius the other night, told me "my life is too small for God to be able to display all of His Goodness. He deserves the room to use other people with other beliefs, goals, dreams, abilities to show me Himself too". And that statement is also good vice versa.
This is hard for me to broach. I would rather avoid the hurts, the confusion, the hard conversations, the awkward scenario. I am comfortable to say hello and calling that "being known". Although to do so is to live a farce. That is a cancerous view of community that will only serve to decay any semblance of beauty in my life.
My life right now is broken up into various sects. My work, my home, my social life and my church. My social life and my church integrate the most, but generally the separateness reigns. I'm asking what God would have me do for that. To boldly face those irrationalities and to pursue friendships. Remembering that it is okay to exhaust myself by people sometimes.
I feel able to say this because I have seen it. Though not a participant, I have been a witness to watching people I admire and revere live very beautiful lives rich with people, they are liberal with their love. Being around them is to inhale the rich fragrance of community. Like the earth after a storm, I am stirring beneath a cloud of ineffectual and infectious fears to a way of life much fuller than my own. These are the people I am grateful for. They do not know how their living is changing me, and that's the best kind of living in my mind.
And regarding my great paradox from above. Though those have been realized in relationships before, they are not the end. So be it if I am not interesting enough for one, what a silly thing to base my value off of anyway. And how foolish of me to not do something because of a fear of failure. Friendships are best when ugly and messy. My favorite people are the ones who have stumbled through and found God in the midst of it. I'd rather be one of them anyway.
Let me end this with a re-disclaimer. I'm at the beginning here. If you are wiser than me in this, please feel free to help. If you are with me in this, I hope I'm brave enough to go beyond saying hello to you in public. If you are nowhere near being here, I understand. Sometimes I can be a real jerk and it's fair for you to not trust me. Here's to letting us be where we are and loving one another enough to not leave each other in the midst of it all.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
"If you work for a man, in Heaven's name work for him. If he pays wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, and stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents.If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally disparage, why, resign your position, and when you are outside, damn to your heart's content. But, I pray you, so long as you are a part of an institution, do not condemn it. Not that you will injure the institution--not that--but when you disparage the concern of which you are a part, you disparage yourself."
A Message for Garcia, Elbert Hubbard
Work assigned me homework to read the book possessing this excerpt.And I'm so glad I did. The initial intention is to consider this for my job, to be loyal to my company, always working for it and with the utmost respect for that which we do and whom we do it for. And over the past few days, it's come back again and again as a Christian ideal.
I have no thought of this in the realm of "working" for God whatsoever. The Christian ideal that has plagued me is that of ownership. Of having such stake, inheritance, and need for it, that you would find yourself doing nothing other than speaking well of it and working for its benefit. I think this trickles down from a home base of God Himself into every other area of life; as is everything I suppose, because life is not without God.
If I am a Christian, then I better be a good one. I better seek God with fervor, a single mindedness forcing me to see His loves as my loves. His people, His church, His disciplines as good and necessary. I am the worst culprit of being critical and refusing the thing all together. I've a nasty habit of going half the distance and stopping there. Recognizing the problem and never seeking the solution. Seeing a need, but not actively meeting it. I think we are all guilty of it, Americans are consumers of Christianity, we're consumers of everything.
And why wouldn't we be? Everything is tangible, food, clothing, excess, interests. I can portray an active interest in something yet never have done the thing and people could see me as an expert. How sad I am when I see this in myself. Although, this consumerism is but a symptom of the problem. Is not the real problem that I am attempting to posture myself in such a way for my benefit? It's the danger, dare I say it, in Theology. What help is knowledge for the dying man? He needs what the knowledge teaches can save.
My mother has recently begun to teach me to garden. I love this for many reasons. It's a treat to be able to share an interest with my mother, something she has such a greater knowledge in that I can only but reap the benefit of sharing. The action of gardening is innately slow. It requires patience and tenacity and attention. A wonderful balance of painstaking detail and general vision. It's an interest that is equal parts about the process as the result and I find that simply wonderful. In learning to garden, I have found myself impatient with my lack of knowledge. I'm around gardens often, I like flowers, I understand all of the components, however without actually digging a hole, planting seeds and letting the thing grow, I will never actually be a gardener.
Kevin Cawley spoke this morning about behavior being the derivative of origin. I can not decide my origin by my behavior, it is a result. And is that not the same implication of what Hubbard says? If one is going to be a Christian, the speaking of God certainly does not dictate the ownership by Him, but it certainly affects the interpretation of it by others. People can see me however they want to, but my intentions in my actions, that is what is going to actually change me. If I am living begottenly (I decree this a word), then my behavior will carry the scent of that. It will incur the slowness of doubt and trouble, not looking to the pain as the result of my faith but of something that my faith can triumph, though it take time. Being a child of God means that I am in it for the long haul and to remind myself, I best speak of it often and speak of it well. To do otherwise doesn't hinder God, it hinders me.
The Christian faith is completely familial. Built upon a foundation of being for one another and for our differences. C.S. Lewis says, "When you find yourself turning your children, or pupils, or even your neighbours, into people exactly like yourself, remember that God probably never meant them to be that." We were always intended to be compatible, not similar. And in that, we should root for one another. Rooting for another by asking questions, learning, sharing, arguing, depending. We root for one another in the faith by letting tensions be tense and letting God sanctify us in the differences.
This trickling is just beginning in my mind. Manfiesting itself in a hundred ways I would love to write out, but for my benefit and your own, I am done for now. But let this be the whole of it, if we're going to be Christians, let's be them. All the way. With the hard and easy, the joyful and the painstaking, the fights and the camaraderie. Let us speak kindly of one another and of God, despite the callousness and bitter infractions we may have had. Let us confront one another in the humblest of ways, checking three times over that we do it for each other and not out of selfish ambition or conceit. Let us be for God and for each other.