I probably shouldn’t refer to the event as a crisis. As I’ve said before it’s more of a face plant event than a crisis. Though if it ever felt like a crisis, it was during February of 2013. What triggered it? Francis Chan at the Breakforth conference! Get him!!! Well, not really. Don’t go get him guys. He really has nothing to do with it. It was just during his talk that a couple of my trajectories came crashing together. He brought on the first of many real decision points. We all have a being-honest-with-myself thought path that kind of goes along through your lives. Sometimes this trajectory crosses other trajectories and forces an honest moment within you. A moment where you realize that you in fact have no freaking idea of what truth really means. Especially when you step out of the sort of mob mentality of a community that all believes a certain thing.
|Feeling like your coming in part way through the conversation? There are earlier posts that share the “faith” tag with this post. Read them if you want to catch up.
A church community creates within itself a certain culture. Each church is different. As a part of that culture you can’t help but have your human nature sort of take over and you start adjusting what you do and say to fit what we detect to be that culture’s norm. Even the most individualistic non-conformer does this (to there absolute horror I might add), and though their adaptation due to that culture might be smaller, it’s still there. And I should say, this is not a bad thing in and of itself. It’s how we work. It’s how we turn our internal moral compass urges into actions. It’s often through a culture of a people group that our outward self shapes itself. It just happens. For this reason it`s probably a really good idea to surround yourself with good people, just like you`re mom always told you.
The what-you-personally-think trajectory eventually crosses your what-this-culture-thinks trajectory and you are left with a choice. Do we assert what we think, or do we submit to the cultural norm. Often it’s easy to conform. We don’t even notice ourselves doing it. Most of the time we hide away what we really think and go with the crowd. There is safety in numbers. That’s a hard wiring we have.
So getting back to my story, my what-everyone-tells-me-I’m-supposed-to-believe-about-God trajectory crossed my if-i’m-honest-I’m-really-not-all-that-sure-at-all trajectory. On top of that I have my getting-old trajectory that kind of underpinned it all and made me decide that maybe it’s time I decide this for myself. Maybe I should take a closer look at myself. The moment of trajectory crossing what when Francis Chan posed a seemingly innocuous question. He said, “Why don’t we tell people about Jesus?”. In my head the answer was immediate, “We don’t want to.” He echoed my thought, “We don’t want to.”
Then began a huge list of questions about what I believe and why. One of the biggest was, do I believe I need Jesus? If I’m honest, this is a truly perplexing question as I simply can’t settle on the answer these days.
The following is some of the contents of an email I wrote to my parents in early 2013. I think it helps explain what all of this is like for me. At the time I needed to voice of some what I thought with people I knew would be absolutely safe. (Now safety seems less important for some reason…) I was by myslef at a cabin near Invermere to work some things out and I wanted my parents to know what was up with me. This email was my attempt to explain it all to them. This is most of what I wrote – at time tearfully.
Since leaving Holy Trinity, I have been having a tough time faith-wise. Church has seemed very contrived and I have been very uncertain of which parts of what I believe are based on fact/truth and what parts have been things I’ve accepted because people have told me that it’s right. I’ve learned that the part of me that adheres to moral rightness is not necessarily connected to real truth.
I believe it’s good to be good. I believe it’s good to follow rules. I believe that some rules and morals need to be accepted without necessarily understanding them fully yourself. That is to say, sometimes you need to trust those who are experts in our lives. We need to start some place, so we start with those we are told we can trust like parents, teachers, mentors, and friends etc. At some point though, their wisdom and council needs to either become your own, or fall away.
So over the past few years I have dared to take a look at my faith. I see it like a brick house that I have built and put my beliefs on top of. This process for me started with me realizing that this house is simply not all fact. In the past I haven’t questioned a lot of the building blocks of my house because my morals told me it would be wrong or bad in some way to do that. Also, many of the bricks have relationships attached. Sometimes I put a brick in my house because someone I love and trust vouched for it. Other bricks are there because I just really want them to be right, even though if I’m honest, I’m not sure they are.
So over the past few years I’ve been looking at these bricks and in a sense attempting to knock them off of the pile. Many bricks have knocked off with ease. Many have little or no mortar. It’s like the truth is the mortar. Truth will hold a true brick in place. The feeling for me is as though you are standing in the house; maybe on the upper floor and the house is falling down around you. This house that I thought was strong is actually made up of lots of assumptions and inaccuracies.
One of the first bricks was the Holy Trinity brick. I believed I should be a loyal church member, like other long time church families that go there. In reality this brick was barely mortared in. It fell away quickly. Now it’s obvious that where to go to church is not all that important on the grand scheme. This is not to say that the weak mortaring is a reflection of the people of Holy Trinity. Easily the biggest thing we miss since leaving HT is all the great people. That brick hasn’t broken away, but it’s on a totally different house I think. Also the HT brick was related to my music career and so that has been unseated as well. So the house begins to crumble.
Next the Anglican brick; an important brick to me. I like the look of this brick. I have etched both your names in it. Because of that, I hold it dear. I also like the tradition it represents. I like the artistic value of symbology and liturgy.
So in order to go to The Sheep, I needed to kind of put this brick aside.
It didn’t shatter or crumble though. I needed to accept it is a part of the house, but to be Anglican is probably not as important as to be Christian. So it’s not a foundational brick I guess?
So the house continues to crumble. There are church bricks that are all about appearance and have nothing at all to do with the structural integrity. There are music bricks that are designed to distract and are placed strategically (by me) to hide things I don’t like about the church, even though I suspect they are key. Like the evangelism brick – the “go ye therefore…” brick. If I’m busy with music, it becomes everyone else’s job to “go ye therefore” and I mind the base and make a nice atmosphere. I’m not an evangelist probably because I don’t want to be.
Some bricks have shattered to bits. Some I have realized their value and I can see them falling with me amidst the other rubble, I suspect they will land on the foundation with me when I finally reach it. My theory is that there is a foundation to the house that can’t be crumbled. I am hopeful for this at least, because if it can ALL be crumbled, then I will land on earth and I will be forced to accept that me and those I trust constructed this house…just because. We carefully made each brick. If I land on earth, then I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Here the thing. Most of us believe we are meeting our own needs. If we are honest, I think most people would accept that. Sometimes we try and attribute it all to God watching out for us, but if you look at non-believers, they are all meeting their own needs too. To be fair, society is set up so a community of people can all meet their needs. So it’s really easy for a person in this society to lose dependence on Jesus and simply meet their own needs.
So my Jesus brick is molded on the wrong Jesus. It came off the house and it falls as rubble. At least I think it is. I believe in Jesus, I just don’t think I really know Him. I see how you, Dad, seem to obviously love Him in your work and the way you teach about him. I don’t think I ever really GOT it. I accepted that he is key to Christianity. He’s mysterious. Do I think I have a relationship with Jesus? I’m not sure anymore. Do I have a relationship with God? For some reason that is easier to say “yes” to. Somehow I’m missing the point of Jesus.
So that’s the current part of the house I’m on. I realized that when such an important brick could be moved, I needed to sort some things out. I talked to Kristy and she graciously offered to send me away by myself to get some time. That’s what this weekend is about. She is worried about how this journey ends. It’s not surprising. I still believe in God. I can remember experiences that I still attribute to Him. As I say, I’m still expectant and hopeful that there is a foundation down there that is true and reliable. I expect He is down there somewhere, ready to catch me and the important bricks.
Where I’m at is that I refuse to be the builder anymore – at least not for a bit. It’s renovation time and I’m taking it down to the bare bones if I have to; down to the stone foundation if I have too.
I’m finding the farther down I go, the older the bricks are and the more they have shaped my choices in the past. I feel a lot of regret about choices I made and time I spent all justified by a certain bricks that used to seem so important at one point but are now dust in the storm. It’s a feeling of crisis. It’s also closely connected to my identity. Who am I REALLY? What REALLY matters? I could be half way through my life (or more) and it sort of feels like I’ve been working this whole time without a blueprint; without a plan. I feel a real sense of loss.
So I wanted you guys to know all this. If it isn’t clear, some prayer would be good. 🙂 I’d like to feel sometime soon that there is something real about all this stuff. I’d like to feel there is a point to spirituality.
Thanks for reading 🙂