Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Freedom of Not Knowing Much

There was a time, not so long ago, when I thought I knew a lot of things.

I could spout off at the mouth with the best of them. I knew the lingo and could parrot all the lines. It was my duty to be right. That's what I told myself.

It was important to have convictions and to stand on them, because wasn't that what I was taught every day, for my entire life?

"You have to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything."

So I stood. I postured.

It wasn't hard for me at all. I was immune to peer pressure, but the real problem was, I told people I was immune to peer pressure. In literal words.

God bless all of my high school friends, because though some of them were similar to me, most of them weren't, and I'm not sure why they didn't punch me in the face sometimes. I'm not sure how I got away with it, and twenty years later, I'm not entirely sure I did.

I clung to my dogma because I didn't want to "fall for anything", even though I couldn't say what that  meant or what it might look like.

Yesterday I sat at two different tables, across from three of my newest, shiniest gifts, admitting how little I know, and that what I do know can't be boiled down to three talking points or emblazoned on an evangelistic t-shirt. (<oxymoron alert)

It felt good to confess my relative in-the-darkness.
It felt even better to hear a version of the same from across the table.

I'm grateful for my heritage of faith that raised me well and grounded who I am today. I'm not sure it couldn've been done any more effectively. As parents, we do the best we can, and mine did a bang-up job if I say so myself.

But I'm achingly aware that I can't hand down to my kids my love for Jesus as if it were an antique watch or Grandma's faded china.

I can stir it into soup and they can swallow it down, but the day will come when they'll have to really sit and sort it out for themselves.

They may have to learn the hard way that politics is not our allegiance. They may disagree with me about certain things. They might hear the Holy Spirit speaking to them in a way that isn't entirely clear to me and, let's be shockingly honest, it's possible they might choose to walk away altogether.

All I know to do is to keep showing them the guts of my faith and hope it settles down around them like a long Summer day.

I want my life to present itself to them in such a way that when my words fall, there's no confusion, no disparity, no uncomfortable discrepancy. The two have got to align.

I want them to understand much earlier that their worldview wasn't cookie-cuttered. I don't want them to be afraid to peel away from the pack. I want them to have a deep understanding of the love to which they were called.

The truth is, I do want them to know what they stand for, and then to stand.

But the flip-side of that coin is, I equally want them to know sitting is often a more gracious posture, and questions are more compelling than dogma.

I can't begin to count the number of sermons, classes, seminars, and workshops I've attended across my lifetime about the principles of my faith and why they matter. They have value and real worth, and I know God has used them, brick-by-brick, to fortify my faith.

But I find the living, laughing, come-sit-by-me-Jesus who named and called me across rickety wooden tables and over salted baskets of chips. I see his grace in worry lines, theirs and mine.

He is all I have, and I meet Him at closest proximity in authentic community, the kind where we each decide to risk being misunderstood, and we tell our truth anyway.