Why it’s kind-of good when things are kind-of sucky

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...
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In order to make a point, I have to whine a little bit.  I hope you’ll bare with me.

Things are tough.  It’s not the kind-of tough that one specific area of my life is brutal.  It’s the kind-of tough where virtually all aspects of my life are quite hard, and all these different challenges conspire together.

More specifically: I’ve taken on this new job that is emotionally taxing.  It’s leading to all this self-doubt.  We have also moved.  Every day after work I have been spending hours moving boxes, cleaning up the old apartment, etc.  I am physically exhausted.   Church life has been erratic for a bunch of reasons, I’m feeling desperate for spiritual recharging.   I’ve been fighting this really nasty respitory/allergy thing…

But tonight, I had this really great moment of just turning it over to Jesus.  This time of wordless prayer.  I got to thinking about the promise that the spiritually impovershed inheriting the kingdom of heaven, the meek inheriting the earth, the sorrow-filled being comforted.  About how we’re called to be spiritually child-like.

I had this glimpse.

When we’re self-satisfied and delude ourselves into thinking we can do it, the best we can do is hope that our destiny is like some super-charged, steroided-out version of the reality we create for ourselves.  When we think we’ve got it all down, we imagine heaven is just like the super-sized version of the life we’ve already got.

But when the world seems out of control, when we come to terms with the liberating and wonderful truth that we can’t do it… Then we see that our future hope is something so much bigger and greater than whatever we might do on our own.

And that… that’s a pretty cool thing.


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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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