Practice makes…

You know, it’s only in long-term relationships that we really learn to forgive.

People marry and divorce.  Friendships come and go as we all move around.  We have thousands of facebook “friends”… yet we the whole online thing is so premeditated that there aren’t many oppurtunities for angering each other, and there aren’t many ways that people can do important things together, so there’s not much liklihood of really messing up and asking someone to forgive you.

Some of us stay connected to family, still.  But it’s different with family.  You almost have to forgive family.  Or in a different way, we never forgive family.

The sum total is that we live our lives hopping from one relationship to another, whenever things get tough.  I’d argue that we aren’t good at forgiving… and probably, as the bible says, we end up being not being very good at being forgiven.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

4 thoughts on “Practice makes…”

  1. That’s good, and so true… you can always make a “rough draft” for what you want to say to someone online, but when really speaking in person, there is a chance that you could say something without thinking it through first that could anger someone… being online can help us avoid that. But can mess with social skills, especially this next generation…

    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for the comment! I’ve really struggled with wondering if moving would be considered “failing.” But the more I think of it, I don’t think it would be… who’s to say that this IS NOT God’s plan for me and my little family? He works in strange ways, and it is ok to “fail.” 🙂

    I told Marty (Mr Holman for me… he was my teacher in ’02) that when we end up making the move, I’m definitely checking out his church. Not sure if that’s your church, but if it is, maybe we’ll see you there! Take care, and thanks again for the comment!

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  2. Very good, short post and many worthy thoughts.

    What you wrote reminded me of C. S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce” where the great nameless drizzly gray city below (we call it “hell”) keeps growing in size and yet becoming emptier and emptier, as its inhabitants quarreled, refused to forgive or be forgiven, and kept moving further and further away, till a chunk the equivalent of a million square miles of city had perhaps a dozen residents, yet the total number of denizens was in the billions.

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  3. There’s a very good post on Fr Stephen’s blog, which has the same title theme as this post of yours, though what it discusses is in some ways very, very different, but I thought I should draw your attention to it.
    http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/belief-and-practice/
    In my mind what ties your post and his together is the word “practice.”

    I also found it humorous to see how much of a Greek I really am, and how vast is the chasm of reality-probing differences between the Greek and Latin mind, of which you and I are examples. (Latin doesn’t mean Roman Catholic to us anymore; it just means Western.)

    This is the passage that made my see my greekness from the outside, because though these are not exactly my thoughts in specifics, they are in essence. Posting this so you can join me in laughing at myself:

    [Michael Cerularius, in Western spelling] Keroularios’s list accuses Latins of, among other things, using unleavened bread in the Eucharist, eating unclean meats, shaving [this refers to clergy], adding “and the Son” to the Nicene Creed (the “filioque” clause), forbidding priests to marry, allowing bishops to wear rings, and baptizing with only one immersion. Keroularios sums up by saying, “Therefore, if they live in such a way and, enfeebled by such customs, dare these things which are obviously lawless, forbidden, and abominable, then will any right-thinking person consider that they are at all to be included in the category of the orthodox? I think not.”

    Wow! Bishops wearing rings is “obviously lawless, forbidden, and abominable”? Hmm, right, yeah, I always thought it was idolatrous that Catholics kiss the pope’s ring. But I wonder if that is as important as the detestable practice of getting baptised by only a single dunking? Every reasonable Christian knows that you’re not really born again and saved unless you’ve been dunked (not merely sprinkled, poured or splashed) and not just once (that’s for sissies) but THREE times. Baptism isn’t really authentic unless it always includes an element of danger and risk of death. Isn’t that why the holy apostles recommended baptism in swiftly flowing mountain streams rather than a pool, and why they recommended ice cold rather than room temperature water? (These rules are found in the early Christian writing, The Didache.)

    Anyway, as you like to consider different points of view, I thought you might like Fr Stephen’s current post.

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  4. Alisha:
    The idea of Marty as “Mr. Holman” is very, very funny to me. My paying gig is as a teacher, so it’s not the “Mr.” thing in general… It’s just that, though I know he spent a couple years teaching history, I don’t think of him as “Mr. Holman”– Pastor Marty, a bit, but not so much “Mr. Holman.”
    Yes. I am a part of Fellowship Church. I hope you’ll stop in if you make it here. Marty’s probably told you that our services are available for viewing online if you’d like a bit of a preview of who we are and what we’re about.
    I think you’re right on the failing thing– There’s plenty of figures in the scriptures who probably felt like they were failing. The Apostles on the night after the crucifcition come to mind. In retrospect, we can see that these times were necessary and important parts of God’s work in the world.

    Romanós-
    Thanks for the thoughts. I’ve never read “The Great Divorce” all the way through. C.S. Lewis is always well worth the investment.

    I look foreward to clicking the link.

    The stuff about Baptism is very funny. On the surface we’re so different… and yet, our former senior pastor tells a very funny story about a contemporary of his.
    This gentleman did not hold on to the idea that we ought to be baptised three times. Rather, his deal, was that it doesn’t count if some part of the body is left un-dunk. If, for example, the tip of the forehead was not submerged, then he believed that the person wasn’t officially baptized.

    This rather legalistic pastor ended up with a women who was rather… big-boned. And she didn’t time her inhalation right as she was tipped backwards, and what ensued was a sort-of wrestling match in the baptismal, as this women flailed for her life and this man was determined to get her all the way wet.

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