I am coming up on the 10 year anniversary of the start of this blog. I started it after a breakup while I was working in the highest paying job I’ve ever had on a natural gas pipeline project in Northeast PA. I was processing my sense of home, sense of meaningful work, sense of calling, sense of family and if I’m honest a kind of second loss of innocence.
To say I was disillusioned would be accurate. Despite, the disillusionment, there would have been a lot of things I would have said I knew. I knew who I loved, I knew I wanted ministry to be my vocation, I knew I wanted to write and learn more about the things of God. I knew I wanted to create a sense of home. Slowly but surely and it is hard to say whether it was more slow than sure, I began to learn that I was less sure about what I knew. I’ve become somewhat familiar with that cycle.
I’ve also become familiar with confusion and the internalization of others uncertainty and how damaging we can allow it to be. How easy and tempting it is to let other’s insecurity and poor witness influence our mind through the wounds of our heart. The feeling of not knowing how to cope with being judged or ignored by people who call themselves Christians even if it is in their immaturity, is exhausting.
I am tempted to hide or at least retreat inward in hopes of finding a genuine version of myself that is not prone to being subject to false judgment or neglect. They don’t know what they do.
Maybe most people don’t know what they are doing or how they are doing in the pain they inflict. I have found most people don’t think about any long term consequences of their short term actions. What I’ve also found is most people have no interest in making restitution for their actions yet want the forgiveness. Some take it a step further and feel entitlement to be absolved of any earthly consequence even if it means the termination of unity.
We’d rather be rid of people than reconcile, which if we wanted to, could make the case for mental murder. When in reality, reconciliation and closeness and to be known is what we were created for and if we are being honest, yearn for. We’d rather keep up pretensions of being nice, put together people than admit to ourselves and others that we harbor hatred and lack compassion yet want intimacy and connection.
Which brings me to another thing I’m not sure I know. Do I know God? Do I feel like what I’ve read or lived is still true in my experience living in the “christian” south? Maybe, instead, God lacks compassion and harbors hatred. Maybe in a desire to prove a point or to prove his omnipotence, He subjects us to suffering and disappointment and enjoys doing it. This would be a hard turn from Orthodox Christianity and what it claims is true of God, that He is good, that He is love (as if love cannot coexist with hatred, rejection, and harm… see crucifixion) and that He has made a way for all rather than some (cue universalism question). I could articulate the Way and why it has to be this way because of the fallen nature of humanity and why I and you need a Savior. I even feel a tangible presence of what I believe to be God in my life, that He speaks through life and Scripture if in fact He is present.
What I begin to doubt is whether I know the same God that other Christians claim to know. Some individual’s claims about the Jesus they know, and the out-workings of their life are exploitive, in pursuit of isolation and disunity, nit-picky and narrow. If the way is narrow, it is because it is through only one person Christ, not because of a rigid picture of perfection that we must live. Yet Jesus in Matthew 5:48 tells us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect (an impossible command). Why does he do this? Likely, so we would cast off the restraints of trusting in ourselves and desperately cling to trusting in Him who can save and does save.
But do I know this? Does it change the way I live and relate to the Church and the world? Do I also forgive with such consistent, yet painful abandon that I take on wounds rather than revenge and subject them to the healing of Christ in hopes that we would all be healed rather than continue to carry and cause hurt.
I think I try; I think I know, yet I also know my try and effort is not what does the work. Christ does and God knows that is enough.