Peace Like A Metaphor

Yesterday I was finally able to meet with my pastor after being delayed by that roundhouse car accident four weeks ago. On the morning of January 27th, as I drove, I mentally plotted out a sketch of the many things I couldn’t figure out or understand. But so much can happen in a month. The logistical life changes are in progress, and the spiritual dilemmas (at least a few) have had natural moments to untangle. Yesterday morning, sitting safely in Starbucks with Sam, I kind of stabbed at what hasn’t yet been addressed.

I’m usually pretty good at communicating complicated plots, but here I’m a little stumped, so I’ll head back into a metaphor that occurred to me while talking to a friend on the phone last night.

When I became a Christian in 1994, it was after having grown up in church, rebelled for a few years, and come back out of extreme depression. I put on my theology and beliefs like moving into a fully furnished house because I had nowhere else to go. I embraced all of it completely. There were uncomfortable things- paintings I found disturbing, rugs that I couldn’t pick up to clean under, smells I couldn’t eradicate, but it was home. I also added things to the house, but got rid of nothing, opting instead to leave those hard choices for another time, or maybe never. Because of some things that happened over the last few years, all of this became intolerable. It might have been smart to slowly tackle the issues, but what happened instead was total demolition. I was throwing stuff out the front door and lighting things on fire, smashing through walls and spending more and more time outside…

But this is a metaphor, you understand. I didn’t know this was what was happening. I just felt really sad and confused and angry. I thought it was all finished by the beginning of 2015, but it was more like I’d burned the house down and was sitting around on the foundation while crows and transients picked at the charred remains. I stuck around for about a year because I was afraid. I was afraid that by burning down that house I had burned down God, burned down myself, too. And where would I go now without my two best friends?

One of the things I realized while talking to pastor Sam yesterday was that neither God, nor I were inside of that house. I’m not making any judgments on the people who built the house. I think a lot of times we erect rooms of faith more because we need them than because they are exactly true. God even revealed himself in the Old Testament as a sojourner- on the move. Ezekiel’s vision of God involves big wheels for mobility. He witnesses God exiting the Temple, not to return again until Jesus arrives in the flesh. Jesus then, would eat in the houses of sinners and religious leaders alike, but mostly he walked from place to place with his friends.

But what does it all really mean? My friend asked me this last night- how does this change what I do and who I am? The main change is inside of my head. For most of my life I have come at situations with the question, “What is right?” but I no longer think that is the most valuable motivator. Now I want to ask, “What is the most loving thing for others and for myself?” I have spent more time than I care to admit worrying about whether my actions are Christian, whether I really fit. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to fit myself into a theology instead of living a life.

What if, instead of asking “what is right, what is moral?” and worrying about the parsing of Greek verbs, we left our houses to encounter people and ask, “what is loving, where is Jesus?”

I feel a new kind of peace to be who I am, even if I’m wrong about a lot of things, even though I continue to be messy. It’s okay, and it’s going to be okay. God and I still have a mutual adoration society. In the future, I may do or say things that don’t line up with your theology. I’m not making plans for this, I just want you to know that, regardless, I love you. However we choose to house our faith, God is inviting us to believe he loves us, he’s inviting us to wrestle through all of the things with him, he’s delighted when we believe him and share that love with others. And he likes to go hiking.

4 Comments

  1. Brenda
    Mar 2, 2016

    Fantastic. Thank you for this. I relate A LOT.

    • pegster
      Mar 16, 2016

      Awesome, Brenda! Thank you for commenting 🙂

  2. Sarah
    Mar 16, 2016

    We’ve had this conversation happening between us too, and it continues to encourage me that you’re going through this process.

    • pegster
      Mar 16, 2016

      I’m glad it’s encouraging. I’m grateful that I’m not alone in the process.

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