I was on a date once upon a time and somehow the topic of blogging came up and he said something like “Blogs are stupid. I don’t understand why anyone would write one and I wouldn’t waste my time reading one.” And without a beat I said, well, good, so I can write all about you in mine. He didn’t laugh. I quickly discovered we were not meant to be together.
There are few worse human experiences than to have someone burst your bubble. You know that moment where you are bouncing up and down, barely able to contain your excitement, and the person you’re with is just staring blankly at you. It’s frustrating and it makes you want to squeeze their necks and shake them. But you don’t because they may press charges. And sometimes you just can’t get someone else excited about the things you’re excited about.
So when you do have someone who is just as nearly happy and bouncy as you are at the moment, the chemistry is explosive and borderline dangerous. Like mixing elements on that chart thingy we studied in chem – you know the ones they don’t let you touch in lab much less near a bunsen burner – people’s energy can have all kinds of interesting, noteworthy effects on each other.
But just like falling in love and realizing there are things about a person you didn’t know, there are these aspects about God that we just simply don’t like. Imagine you are dating someone for a year and suddenly you meet their family and you go, whooooaaaaaa…. really? Those people are insane. Or you find out that the person has a child somewhere who he doesn’t even know. Or you somehow discover the person is already married in three states and owns some property in rural Utah.
Whatever. The point is that as you learn more about someone, sooner or later, things crop up. There are deal breakers – the things that are just non-negotiable and will end the relationship there and then.
But then there are those things that take some careful manuevering. I don’t want to move to XYZ city if you get that job in XYZ. Or I don’t really know how to deal with your mother. Or what-have-you… and you take a giant step back to a safe place and figure the odds of lasting past whatever hurdle you find yourself um hurdling.
In 2001, I moved clear across the country to run away from everything I had ever known and loved and tried the Left Coast, also known as Los Angeles. What I discovered there was that I totally could move clear across the country and run away from everything I had ever known and loved and be pretty darn successful at it. I started over, met some new folks, got a cool job and was trying to live the Cali lifestyle, mostly meaning I wore sunglasses everywhere.
I’m saying this because what I was most running from was a mixture of God and man. God generally and a man specifically. And what I had come to realize was that it’s always easier to say, i don’t like this and so I’m just not gonna do it any more. Like, I don’t like my job, I’m just gonna not go. Or this church isn’t meeting my needs, so I’m just gonna go to another one. Or this person isn’t listening to my story that I told 5 times already, so I’m just gonna find a new friend. We are such a recyclable society – just throw it away and we’ll make something else.
This is what happens to Christians who once believed. They come across the thing that baffles, troubles, hurts, destroys them and they say, ok there’s no way that fits into my touchy feely concept of God and Love and Truth and so I’m gonna just not do that any more. And instead of wrestling it down to a place where we are ok with the chaos and the inconsistency and the troublesome concepts, we abandon and hightail it out of there.
And you can do that. That’s why it is called a “belief.” And what you choose to believe may change tomorrow and for some of you, I pray it does. For others, there is this sense that God somehow failed. Or that someone in the church let them down and now they just can’t believe anything any more.
I always cringe when people talk about an ex in a mean way. I try not to, though I can say that most of the more significant ex-boyfriends are all wonderful people who just weren’t right for any number of reasons. Like the one who did lines of coke every night. But that’s another blog for another day.
I remember one particular friend talking about her ex-husband and saying some pretty mean things about him and then after asking some questions she came to realize that she certainly didn’t help the situation at all. Which is always an alarming realization when you look back on a situation and start thinking through all the things you shoulda-coulda-woulda and just now have to admit it to yourself in order to move on and not make the same mistakes… which we tend to do.
In keeping with the analogy here, I feel like we put a lot of our own baggage on God. We feel like He isn’t living up to His side of the bargain because we just haven’t gotten what we think we’re supposed to be getting and when we want to get it. I have found myself questioning His love for me and His alleged goodness when things go terribly wrong and I have gotten so angry with what He allows to happen, whether to me personally or to those I care about, that I ran as far as I could – even to California.
And like Jonah to the whale, I was redirected in my tracks and sent on a quest that I have only in the past year or so even begun to understand and be blessed by, leading me to where I am today.
I’m not saying I get it all. I certainly do not. But I know that I want to fall more in love with the One who called me and to better understand what that looks and feels like. And like any relationship, that takes my effort and commitment… but in this relationship, Love’s redeeming work is done. And that’s where we rest, not try harder, and definitely not move on to something else to see how that fits. You can try. I have. Sometimes I still try to fit it all together somehow. And there are answers still to find. But I am not looking just anywhere for the answers any more and there is a peace in that, down deep in my soul, a confidence… kinda like being in love.