In the Moment

The worst moment is when you think everything is going right, and then suddenly it all falls apart.  One of my favorite shows, The Walking Dead is brilliant at this.  (A bit of a year old spoiler ahead…)  For example, there was this sweet kid, Beth.  She disapeared for about a year.  Suddenly she is back.  We get reminded how wonderful she is.  Then?  Then she dies.

Though I am not a sports guy, I can emphasize with football fans.  The team is about to come back, the quarter back throws a beautiful pass, across dozens of yards.  They bar erupts in cheers!  And then, the other team comes in, intercepts, and then it all falls apart.  Touchdown, field goal, or maybe a home run or something.  (You have no idea how proud of myself I am, for that sports metaphor.  Based on the above accuracy, you will probably be amazed to find out that I am not a sports guy.)

121811 Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (21) intercepts a pass intended for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson (13) in the third quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
121811 Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (21) intercepts a pass intended for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson (13) in the third quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

I think God must get this feeling a lot.  Perhaps by you.  Most definitely by me.  There are times when I suspect “he” is like, “That’s right Jeff, you are thinking the right way.  Just keep going in that direction, keep thinking that way…. What?!?  No, you just messed it all up!”

Last blog post, a pondered about the ways that God shows up in the flesh, the ways he is here, in the details, in the mess, in the dirt.  God is amazingly specific and detailed.  He is an example, not an abstraction.

And yet?  As I shared this… I was all abstract.  Theoretic.  I heard once about a presentation given on “The Interactive Classroom.”  It was a power point presentation.  This adventure in missing the point is a bit like mine, I think.

I am writing, mostly, to myself, and for myself here.  This is my reminder to myself, my attempt at calling myself out to something bigger and better.    The bigger and better?  It is living where and when I am.

When I am among the hurting, I want to hurt with them.  I want to carry that burden.  I want to feel the pain.  I want to embrace the specifics of the pain, rather than deflecting with abstraction and theoretics.   This will mean, often, closing my mouth and sitting in silence with others…  Because these canned responses that we save for hard times…  They are as much about protecting our own selves as they are about helping out others.

And when I am among the rejoicing, I want to rejoice.  I am terrible at rejoicing.  I think it is an age, culture, and gender thing…  Straight white middle aged men?  We are typically terrible at rejoicing.  To explore why would probably require a bunch of paragraphs.  Or maybe a whole blog post.  Or maybe a whole book.

Whatever the reason, my failure to embrace the actual reality of a moments of joy means that every last one of them will never come back.  They are lost forever.  And I think it’s time I stopped that.

I am new to this…  and maybe not very good at it.  How do I step out of the theoretical and ideal and into the reality of the moment?


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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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