It’s the principle of the matter, not the principal of the matter.

My youngest woke me up from a deep sleep.  That’s not an unusual thing.  What was unusual, is how thoroughly and clearly I realized something as I woke up:

Somewhere, somehow, my stupid self has stopped praying for God to change me.

I’m going through some difficult circumstances.  My current job has not invited me back for next year.  It is heart breaking because there are things I love about the job, and more importantly, all false modesty aside I’m damn good at it.

When I’m feeling kind I say that there is a difference in vision between myself and the school leadership.  When I’m feeling a little less kind I harp on the fact that my vision is consistent with the spirit of the law, is the one that is rooted in experience (the brand new principal thinks he gets “it” but he doesn’t) and benefits the most kids.

But all that is niether here nor there.  He’s the principal.  I’m not.

I have been a rather mopey and pathetic mess as the school year winds to a close.  I have so much to be thankful for.  Not just the obvious stuff like my health, my amazing family, or the roof over my head.  But there are even blessings directly rooted in this situation.

God loved me enough to close this door:  I would have been miserable next year, if I’d stayed.  He’s reminding me that I’m bigger than my job.  He’s reminding me that I shouldn’t work with emotionally disturbed adolescents to get the affirmation of the worldly power structure.  He’s showing me– yet again– that everything I have and all that I think I am is not something I own, it’s just on lease.

I realized, as I woke up at about 3 this morning, quite suddenly, that I have been resisting all those truths: fighting them.   I’ve been praying for outside circumstances to change so that I could deny these things a bit longer.

I don’t think it’s a problem to pray for external circumstances to change.  I think the problem is when we only pray for external circumstances to change… Before he was crucified, Jesus said “I’d rather not go through with this.”  But he went on to say “But it’s your will, not my will, God.”

In much less brutal circumstances, I’ve been praying, in lots of different ways, “I’d rather not go through this.”  But I have been doing much praying “But it’s your will, not my will, God.”

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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.

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