Do you ever get tired of discussions about faith? Secret confession: I do.
Not all the time. Some discussions I find riveting. But sometimes… OK, often… I’m just sort of done with the arguing. And weary with the rabbit trails. And tired of the verses which are used and abused as “proof.” And eager to get on with my faith and my life without assuming that the theological discussions define either one.
And do you ever feel like Who You’re Expected To Be is at war with Who You Really Are? Because that is SO ME.
As a woman who’s invested in my faith, I’ve felt in the past like I should want to dive into theological discussions online and in my broader Church and, you know, exhort people to do better and believe more and doubt less. But that’s not me these days. It’s just… not.
The truth is, I’m not much of an exhorter, and, quite frankly, if I see you face down on life’s path, spread eagle and mumbling, “I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. Not. One. More. Step,” I’m not the one who’s going to jog in place with pep and vigor and cheerfully shout, “Oh, come on. Hop up! YOU CAN DO IT.”
No, I’m sure not. Because, although I’m as certain as the cheerleader that you can take another step, I’m the girl who’s going to see you down there, covered in mud and exhaustion, and flop down beside you on my back, look up at the sky and the trees, and say, “Can you even believe it’s possible to be THIS TIRED? This DONE? With All The Things?” And I will shake my head back and forth in that mud in disbelief at this much weariness as I tell the others who stumble upon us, “Carry on! Don’t wait for us. We’re just taking a lengthy break right here. An indefinite break. A break to shame all previous breaks. You know, because we’re stretching out our muscles and stuff.” And then I’ll stage whisper to you, “Or we’re dying,” and you’ll laugh, because you’ll know I’m kidding, but barely.
Lots of people will carry on, hurdling over us at breakneck speeds, and we’ll cheer for them as best we can in our wasted state, thinking good for you and, when we can muster the energy, giving them a half-hearted one-thumb-up. But some other weary souls will collapse beside us, and the group of us will lay there together in the mess and just breathe. And shake our heads. And laugh when we can. And breathe again.
Which is a lot what Love looks like to me these days.
A couple weeks ago, I started a series here on faith. “Series” used in the loosest possible sense of the word because we just started five kids at four different schools last week and, whew!, the start of school laid me flat with all of its unreasonable requirements like waking up earlier than “go away and leave me alone,” and wearing not-pajamas, and feeding kids food for breakfast, and arriving at school before it starts every morning.
So I planned two – count them, two – posts on faith and called it a series and then thought later that I probably should’ve mentioned the series was less What Faith Is Supposed to Be and more What Faith Really Looks Like to me because the first post was all questioning, doubt and learning to breathe as opposed to, you know, answers, and this one is about being tired — so flat-on-my-face tired of the nit-picky nit-pickiness, to use the theological term, that the Church seems to want us to walk through.
Come as you are, the Church says, but sometimes they mean come as you are so we can change you. The fancy word for this is transformation. And don’t get me wrong — I absolutely believe that LOVE TRANSFORMS US — it’s just that I’ve come to the conviction that, while it’s my job to love extravagantly and to get muddy with my people, it’s Love’s job to do the transforming work and not mine, not mine, not mine.
The truth is, sometimes my eyes roll back in my head because I can’t take latest sexuality conversation or gender equality conversation or modesty conversation or what have you. Not because I don’t care about those issues. Or because I think they’re unimportant. Or because other people of faith whom I LOVE aren’t doing excellent, life-saving work around them.
It’s just that, while those awesome people are thinking and discussing and walking upright, I’m lying face down in the mud. Tired.
So I used to spend a lot of time wondering whether I’d missed the boat. Or if something was wrong with me as a writer who’s also a Woman of Faith. But I’ve come lately to the conclusion that no, nothing’s wrong with me because, after examining my motivations for more than 20 years, here’s what I know:
I just want to get on with the business of Love.
Love loves us. Love one another. The end.
It’s not that I don’t care about theology. Or about the structures and doctrines of my faith. I do. I majored in Church History, for God’s sake. It’s just that I’m ready to get on with the business of Love, and I find myself more and more frequently without the time or energy to debate whether I think about God or Love the right way. I’m no longer interested in maintaining the long list of rules. Or in defending my faith. Or in converting others to my cause. I find, instead, the older I get, the more the peripheral stuff gets put on the back burner, and the more interested I am in the real, practical ways of Love.
The real, practical ways of Love.
Which look a lot like less like reasoned arguments and defenses of my faith and a lot more like befriending the fallen in the middle of the path.
And lying down in the mud together.
And laughing into the mess.
I just want to get on with the business of Love.
Only. Ever. Always. The End.
And that is my statement of faith.
Thank YOU so very much for trusting our community with your answers to 5 Quick Questions About Faith, as well. We heard from people who identified as atheists, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, agnostics, Catholics, Muslims, Quakers, and many, many more, including someone who said she’s both a Jedi and a Trekkie which I think is a bit of a stretch, but what are you gonna do? 😉 Honestly, it was a great honor to hear your stories of faith and to have you entrust our community with your words. I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge your profound honesty (your apologies blew me out of the water!) and to note how grateful I am for each of you.
Do you have a confession about or statement of faith? I’d love to hear what’s really going on inside you.