Recently I had brunch with a new friend who read my last post and was a little confused. Is "Sherah" my imaginary friend? An Internet sensation? Someone all the kids were writing to these days? I laughed and explained that you’re a real friend whose writing and thinking spurs on my writing and thinking.
This week I was especially grateful that you are my very real, non-imaginary, non-Internet-sensation friend. You acknowledged how it feels to engage these kinds of questions (a little unnerving, yes) and offered your own story of climbing toward an authentic faith. “Is this honesty or is it heresy?” you questioned at one point. I hear ya. You followed up later to make sure it didn't come off as an accusation. (It didn't.)
My thinking is that there is no such thing as a heretical question, only heretical conclusions. I’ve learned how to sit with questions for a long time, but I’m also in a season of reexamining some of the answers that (as you described) have been handed down to me, often without my knowing where they came from. A Gentler God named and validated some of the things I’ve thought and felt for years, which was comforting. It also sent me back to scripture with fresh, wide eyes, which was invigorating. I'm excited to be discussing it with you and others while I draw conclusions about it.
A while ago you wrote this apt rhetorical question that I’ve thought about a few times since. You said, "You know how sometimes, life gets a little too slow, and you're itching, restless, dying for something to do? And other times, life crashes in on you, and you can't breathe, and you turn circles in your living room because you're not sure where to start?"
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I wonder if this is true for you, too: the anxiety I experience both in boredom and overwhelm feels nearly identical. So much so that I often can’t tell the difference. Is it that I’m overextended and not able to give my full presence to the meaningful things in front of me? Or is it that I’m unengaged, too bored and anxious to sit still, in need of something new? Overwhelm and restlessness look like the opposites of one another, but really they’re both opposites of that stillness-in-motion way of living and being that I really want… that deep-down sense of wholeness that is completely independent of our schedules, activities, and productivities. Something like that light burden Jesus offered. Something like rest.
Spiritually, right now, I’m spinning around in my living room, not sure where to start. I have three tabs open on my Kindle Cloud reader, I’m writing Evernotes too fast to tag, I have three theology courses queued up on my iTunes account, and I’m reading the Bible like it’s an overdue library book. Meanwhile I'm trying to keep up with the "regular" stuff of life, which at the moment includes cooking weekly meals for the 30 people I currently live with and replacing everything in my (officially) lost wallet. I’m kind of a mess. An eager, overwhelmed mess. (Another one of your letters is coming to mind here.)
Interestingly enough, the last chapter in Frank’s book is titled “The Freedom to be a Mess." I skimmed over it again today and took a couple deep breaths. Then I connected with the two parts in messy me that are most at odds right now: the part that wants to put her head down and get through this season so that everything can go back to “normal,” and the part that’s longing for something truer and deeper than my old normal. I suspect that second part is the one who's driving this flurry of spiritual activity. I know what she’s after and I think it’s great, but I need her to settle down a little. I can’t read as fast as she’s asking me to, and also my kid really wants to jump in leaves.
(This is the first autumn in the States that he remembers, and any minute that we're not jumping in leaves, he's asking when we can next jump in leaves.)
So this is what I’ve been up to lately. Spinning, questioning, reading, jumping... starting to find stillness in the leap.
Let's pick up the conversation when you start reading the book? At your leisure, of course. I also know there’s a new development in your life right now (wink), and I’d love to hear about that, too.