We laughed about some memories, that night last week when my eldest son and I went out for our monthly date night. Then I asked about this one thing and he said, hesitantly, his eyes rolling, That’s…well, that’s when I was baptized…
Why do you roll your eyes at that, I asked.
I don’t know…it’s just that I haven’t been all that close to God all the time. And I’ve made some big mistakes…
I wanted to shout HE LOVES YOUR STINKIN GUTS, dude!
We talked about how it’s more of a process, to come to a real faith in a loving creator. And that sometimes following steps; Pray these words, ask Him into your heart, now live differently, amen -- Lather Rinse Repeat -- can set you up for failure, because you somehow believe this means you are perfected and spirit-filled to the point of no return to your humanity.
And then you return to your humanity. Well, because you are, in fact, human.
And then you think you’re a terrible person. And that you've failed as a Christian. And then you feel far away from God and you wonder if you ever really were close at all or if it was just some random emotional moment, a new thing, a taste of heaven that slipped away.
This seems quite defeating, this systematic way.
Maybe the Way is longer, more mysterious, much bigger than we could fathom. Maybe while we sat at the table, in that moment, talking about summer, girls and God, we were holiness embodied. Despite our fumbling words and our currently terribly messy lives. Despite how life changes, altering the meaning of a baptism. Despite ourselves. Despite all the different takes on the Bible and every answer for every question Christianity raises up.
Maybe the way we sat there in unconditional support and love, breaking bread and living life together, laughing and joking and talking…maybe all of that is really living His love and maybe we’re okay. No…not maybe. We are okay. We are more than okay. We are right where we need to be in this moment.
I know there is a loving God. Not because I prayed a prayer, but because as I walked through life, feeling like I could never get it right, feeling so far away from Good and Right, He used people and experiences to show me a New Way–a grace way. A wide open, free, fully alive thing. A thing where I have no answers, but many questions, and I’m learning to put the questions down. A thing where I question my motives and choices against the rules and come up still confused and so I have no choice but to set them down. A thing where instead of feeling far from God when this happens, I feel more love. Because He loves my guts. And when I remember that, when I really get that, I don’t feel so bound up by something that is supposed to feel like salvation but doesn't.
We talked about how the years change us, how our faith takes on different shapes and is richer and maybe even something more powerful than the original “by the book” understanding we started with.
Then we went back to the stuffing our faces and concluded our date with the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we’re going to be okay.