Tell Me a Story
I get really annoyed when people try to tell me what to do.
I get angry when people bring God into it and give me their opinion, but label it divine. I can’t really listen to people who offer a lot of advice or give me quick, authoritative answers to incredibly difficult questions.
I see a lot of this online and it’s maddening. And then it makes me a bit sad, because I realize that people are hiding behind their proof-texting, closing comments, or refusal to engage. They’re scared of something.
The people who stand up behind the lecturing or posturing probably have some of the most powerful stories. And while I can't control when or how they tell them, I wish they would.
Because I think, and I know from my own experience, that if they opened up and admitted that they don't have everything figured out, that they're just doing their best like the rest of us, that they think the way they do because of specific meaningful experiences, that they'd find their stories welcomed. I think they’d find themselves accepted.
It's incredibly difficult, but it's possible to be vulnerable and still say smart things.
I used to think that in order to be loving or get love from other people, I had to lie. Not in a "that sweater looks great on you" when it doesn't sort of way, but in a way that hid who I was. I was raised to believe that people weren't interested in my process, only my results. And since there was a pretty narrow view of "the right results according to the Bible," I just sort of skipped the process part. I got to the results thing as quickly as possible, so I'd be seen as mature. I announced my belief in things that I had no context or depth to believe.
This isn't to say that I didn't understand those beliefs. Oh, I got it. I did all the research, navigated arguments, and backed up those beliefs with "evidence." I could spout Bible verses, name systematic theological proofs, and did very well at all of that. I could tell you what I believed. But I didn’t really believe it.
When my faith fell apart, when I realized and admitted I didn't even like the God I spent so much energy defending, I had to enter the process.
I had to mature in faith instead of answers.
Even if I don't agree with you or understand God or humanity or myself the way that you do, I think there's a lot of room for common ground. Not one of lies or forced unity, but one that says we are in this together, even if it looks different.
None of us have life or theology or practical faith under our control. When we tell our honest stories, it celebrates that we're in this process with each other instead of trying to be the best. I may not get your conclusion, but I can get you. When you tell me your stories, when you listen to mine, when we do this well, it is better than any formula. It is life.
Because that diversity celebrates the vast majesty of the God I found when I entered my process:
A God who is creator and infant, holy and gentle, steady and ever-changing. A God who is absolute truth and mysterious glory. A God who is revealed and celebrated in stories like yours and mine. A God who is active and alive and with us.