“All Things Bright and Beautiful”
So I’ve actually sat down multiple times attempting to blog since last March, but I guess nursing had simply killed any creative juices in my system (at least, any related to writing) and I ended up deleting all attempts in frustration. But I guess I’ve lately seen a lot of my musings culminate into possibly more stable thoughts as the semester has progressed, so maybe articulation of them will come a bit more easily this go-around.
I’ve really struggled with impatience and frustration over the past few months towards the conservative community in which I grew up, and it’s been something I’ve really had to sift through and process. (And as a disclaimer, none of this was related to my parents and how they raised me in any way, because I am so grateful for their impact on my life and the values they gave me, and I hope someday I can be as awesome a parent as they were. End disclaimer.) My feelings don’t stem from many of the ideals and beliefs, because I still hold many of them myself. I guess the issue I see is the motivation and drive behind many of the things we do. When fear is a driving factor, so much beauty and joy is lost, and that is a tragedy.
Something I’ve realized about myself is that I’m probably more of a rebel than I ever gave myself credit (and if my parents ever read this, their reaction will probably go along the lines of, “You just NOW realized this?”…) I want to think that this could be a good quality that also has a lot of potential to go bad quickly and easily… I enjoy thinking about controversial topics, working through things that aren’t necessarily comfortable, and challenging established ideas. Not necessarily because I think the ideas are wrong, but simply because constant tension of two sides is needed to attain equilibrium. It’s easy to pick a side, and because we’re human, we’re really excellent at screwing things up, and drifting over to an extreme is much too easy. Picking a stance and becoming complacent with it seems to me almost dangerous. Pride too easily sneaks in and muddles it all up, even if it started out quite lovely.
All this to say…yes, at the end of the day, a lot of the ideals my community valued are many of the same I value as well. But I really do believe cautiousness is essentially in making sure the driving force behind those values is based in love and joy rather than fear. So enough with the vague, fluffy concepts…
For example, a lot of Christian harp on being “in the world, but not of it,” yet I see about a million definitions out there on what that means. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are some black and white issues of morality…like, no matter how hard you try to spin it, the “Christian liberty” argument just isn’t going to fly in a court of law if you decide to go out and murder someone and such… BUT, a lot of other issues such as time, the rating of movies, alcohol, methodology of schooling, Harry Potter or no-Harry Potter (or I guess Twilight/The Hunger Games is the more current controversy), etc, etc *insert pretty much a million other issues, those are just some that I’ve personally dealt with*.
I guess part of my exasperation in all of these issues is the reason why people choose one side or the other. We are constantly critical and looking for flaws in everything and then continuing on to thereby proclaim them off-limits for everyone and judge anyone who thinks otherwise.
Ultimately, it’s the focus on the negative that frustrates me the most. And while it is important to discern between darkness and light, sometimes it seems to me as if we’re so focused on pointing out darkness, that we forget that if we truly focus on the beauty of the light, the darkness becomes a non-issue. I wonder what we would be like as Christians, if we truly received our joy and motivation for what we do from our love for Christ spilling over into every aspect of our lives, instead of pursuing holiness in our own strength by making endless lists of do’s a don’t’s.
I’m not saying that discernment isn’t crucial, and critically thinking through issues is vital…one of my favorite verses is, “Be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves,” (Matt 10:16). I guess all I’m trying to say is I wish I saw more decisions made out of joy and love for Christ. More positively focused than negatively focused. Christianity isn’t about trying to not make mistakes, it’s about pursuing Jesus (and when we truly do that, making mistakes won’t be an issue). And when we turn away, and mistakes are made, the beauty of God’s grace and mercy just shines forth even brighter.
I want the root of my decisions and choices grounded in the pursuit of what is Beautiful, rather than the origination being found in separating myself from what is not. I want Love to be what drives and motivates me in how I live my life instead of allowing fear to cripple me. In a sense, the two sources have similar results and appearances superficially. But I believe that one is life-giving, while the other can really cause the heart a lot of damage.