Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Matters Now?

This is a mildly edited version of a reflection I write in my writing spiritual formation group the other day. The prompt was a simple question: "What matters now?" Clearly, my reflection devolved into a quasi-rant, and although I edited out a few things, including strong language (*sigh*), I chose to leave it largely intact. Take it or leave it.

I feel like my life has been lived in the awkward space between what matters and what should matter—that is, what matters to me and what matters to family, friends, society, etc. And, just to make things more complicated, I think there is a third category: what matters to God.

Of course, that one tends to be harder to figure out, so I'm constantly trying to decide whether God reveals what matters to him [sic—we need a new pronoun for God] through the desires and passions I think he has placed on my heart, or whether God does so through the words and actions of others, trying to decide when either of those is the case, and trying to decide whether sometimes it might actually be both.

I wish all my experiences and hopes came with divinely ordained labels: "This doesn't matter to God. Let it go." "This is really important to God. Take good care of it."

OK, so—so does matter? I'm constantly engaged in arguments over what matters in the church. Just the other day, I was turning my nose up at a pastor who did something in worship that I found distasteful. I felt a little ashamed of my judgments after the sermon that senior M.Div. student Carlos Smith preached this past Tuesday in Goodson Chapel, where he chastized Christians for spending too much time and energy trying to decide who's right or wrong, in or out. I can be kind of a jerk about things I think matter to me and to God. I know I shouldn't do that.

But you know what? I still think that thing the pastor did was stupid. Maybe there was a good reason for it, though. That reason probably wouldn't be enough for me to start using that approach, but maybe it's there.

Maybe what I need to figure out isn't just what matters but how I allow it to matter. Can't I have things that are important to me without needing to dis other approaches? If something seems to matter, can't I just be excited about it without thumbing my nose at people who see things differently?

If the church would be more passionate about loving God and his people than about condemning gays and Muslims to hell, maybe we wouldn't look like such jerks. And when we look like jerks, we make God look like one too.

2 comments:

Hilary Chaney said...

I'd love to get your perspective on my blog. I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride. http://graduatingfromgod.blogspot.com/

Sarah said...

Thanks for your comment. I'll check out your blog. I believe that "heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner." That's an integral part of my own faith, and I'm glad to hear you've come out of your breakdown to discover that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Matters Now?

This is a mildly edited version of a reflection I write in my writing spiritual formation group the other day. The prompt was a simple question: "What matters now?" Clearly, my reflection devolved into a quasi-rant, and although I edited out a few things, including strong language (*sigh*), I chose to leave it largely intact. Take it or leave it.

I feel like my life has been lived in the awkward space between what matters and what should matter—that is, what matters to me and what matters to family, friends, society, etc. And, just to make things more complicated, I think there is a third category: what matters to God.

Of course, that one tends to be harder to figure out, so I'm constantly trying to decide whether God reveals what matters to him [sic—we need a new pronoun for God] through the desires and passions I think he has placed on my heart, or whether God does so through the words and actions of others, trying to decide when either of those is the case, and trying to decide whether sometimes it might actually be both.

I wish all my experiences and hopes came with divinely ordained labels: "This doesn't matter to God. Let it go." "This is really important to God. Take good care of it."

OK, so—so does matter? I'm constantly engaged in arguments over what matters in the church. Just the other day, I was turning my nose up at a pastor who did something in worship that I found distasteful. I felt a little ashamed of my judgments after the sermon that senior M.Div. student Carlos Smith preached this past Tuesday in Goodson Chapel, where he chastized Christians for spending too much time and energy trying to decide who's right or wrong, in or out. I can be kind of a jerk about things I think matter to me and to God. I know I shouldn't do that.

But you know what? I still think that thing the pastor did was stupid. Maybe there was a good reason for it, though. That reason probably wouldn't be enough for me to start using that approach, but maybe it's there.

Maybe what I need to figure out isn't just what matters but how I allow it to matter. Can't I have things that are important to me without needing to dis other approaches? If something seems to matter, can't I just be excited about it without thumbing my nose at people who see things differently?

If the church would be more passionate about loving God and his people than about condemning gays and Muslims to hell, maybe we wouldn't look like such jerks. And when we look like jerks, we make God look like one too.

2 comments:

Hilary Chaney said...

I'd love to get your perspective on my blog. I’ve just started blogging about my own manic break and hospitalization. It’s about recovery and treatment, but more importantly about discovery of a new post-religion faith where there is no hell, no original sin, you are God, and heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner. A wild and triumphant ride. http://graduatingfromgod.blogspot.com/

Sarah said...

Thanks for your comment. I'll check out your blog. I believe that "heaven on earth is real, radiant and right around the corner." That's an integral part of my own faith, and I'm glad to hear you've come out of your breakdown to discover that.

 

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