This article has been typed thousands of times in my head. Well, when I was typing it in my head, I didn’t realize you would be reading it, but here we are. It’s try 8,427 and I now find myself sitting in the upstairs of the Boaz Public Library (now I’m at the Waffle House) reading books and articles on mission statements and typing this out for you. These books force me to think about my own mission and vision, which leads to questions about identity.
Most of my journey over the last decade since I left my parents house for college has been trying to discover who God is, but throughout this process I’ve also had to find out who I am. I suppose this makes sense since we tend to create God in our own image, and, if I’m being honest, I can’t help but participate in this pattern myself. I guess this means God is an almost 30-year-old guy who likes playing mandolin, doing card tricks, and writing.
Anyway, I’m stalling.
Just today (or two days ago), I was standing in the doorway of my friend LeAnne’s office, as I often do, and talking to her about my desire for freedom from self-inflicted religious restrictions that I cognitively know are not based in reality but, in a much more deeper way of knowing, can’t seem to fully escape.
For much of my time in my searching, I’ve found that my head and heart are often unaligned. That is, my heart will know something to be true before my head does, and that can be something extraordinarily difficult to reconcile, if it ever truly can. In these scenarios, my gut gives me the answers that my head can’t logically prove… at least in that moment. In many of these cases, I often find a way to reconcile it to a degree, and I am becoming increasingly more comfortable with trusting my heart.
But now I have found myself in a different situation because a third player has entered the equation.
My head and my heart are aligned, but something else within me, or perhaps outside of me, is not allowing me to act in the ways I would like. Diagnosing exactly what this is has been difficult, and it could be that the process of diagnosis is a distraction from trusting the freedom.
Perhaps the longer I sit and try to figure out what is the matter, the longer I must go before simply embracing it.
But what are the consequences?
Rejection? Castigation? Embarrassment? Shame?
Could it be that I’m afraid of who I truly am? Can I handle it?
And if I can’t, can I expect others to? Is that reasonable?
I’ve experienced it before: the feeling of being myself. The momentary joy was exhilarating, but the consequences were dire. Perhaps that’s why I hesitate. Perhaps that’s the reason for this momentary pause.
The refreshing water is beneath me, but the crippling fear of heights keeps me from taking the plunge. It’s one step away. One small hop. But regardless of how many times I step to the ledge, my mind can’t bring my legs to commit.
“Rip off the band-aid.”
Let me tell you about how I take off band-aids. I get into the shower. I run hot water over it. I slowly and painstakingly peel it off with the help of the water.
I’m learning to ask for a shot instead of five-days of pills (“are you going to pass out?” I’m regularly asked). I’m learning to trust that the water is deep enough and not to overthink it. I know that ripping the band-aid off would be much better than slowly peeling it away in a hot shower.
But it’s not so easy, is it? At least not for me.
And that’s when the thought comes. Perhaps this is about a lack of trust in God? Didn’t Jesus say not to worry about tomorrow? Didn’t Peter say to cast all of our cares upon the Lord? Is God really like a nursing mother? Is his yoke really easy and is his burden really light?
Or will the rug be pulled out from under me?
Well, perhaps. But every time it has, some door has been opened, and, yes, sometimes it was a trapdoor, yet here we are. And here you are, someone who finds these words worth reading, if for comfort, learning, or critique, I don’t know. Is that comforting to me? Yes, and a bit confusing.
And that’s it. No answer. No conclusion. Just questions. Because right now, that’s where I am.
What’s the point of sharing?
Well, I know you might be there too, and I know how lonely that can be, how lonely it presently is. Not lonely in the sense that I am alone or that you are alone (because, again, here we both are), but lonely in the sense that I alone, at least among folks like you and me with flesh and blood, know me in the way that I do. That’s a different kind of lonely. Perhaps introducing you to myself is a way to overcome that loneliness, so here I am, typing away.
Wait. There’s more that asked to be typed as I went to hit ‘Publish.’
“Share what’s on your mind. Speak your truth.”
HA! I’m not falling for it this time, you rascal. That line may work on unsuspecting members who need to be outed for their differing opinions, but I’ve been there and done that, and it’s not pretty.
Oh but what if we could! How awesome would that be!
Would you believe me if I said that I was a safe person to talk to? Maybe, but how could you truly know that unless I was, in kind, transparent with you? But if I was, would I even be the kind of person you would want to talk to or associate with?
Which, if that’s the case, I guess we would both be better off if I could just come clean so you can move on. The problem is, going back to something earlier, do I even have the syllogisms, the arguments, the exegesis, or even the ability to explain myself in such a way to defend myself from the inevitable onslaught of attack? And, more importantly, am I even playing that game anymore? Are you and I speaking the same language and playing by the same rules?
I mean, I don’t know why I can’t clap to a song during worship or raise hands, okay? Like, there’s obviously nothing wrong with it, so what’s holding me back? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.