challenges, Christianity, conflict, death, faith, fear, freedom, healing, inner conflict, observations, parenting, personal freedom, possibility, reflection, religion, spirituality, transformation, truth
I’ve been reading some older posts of mine. It’s always interesting for me to reflect on things written a year, two years ago. See the subtle changes in myself, my writing, my perspectives.
I see growth. I feel growth.
And, interestingly enough, some of my growth has come by letting go, but just as much has come about through holding on.
We live in a society that seems to want to hurry through everything. Every experience. Every emotion. And I think that might be where we’re missing out on self-improvement and inner growth opportunities. In the rush.
I’m as guilty as anyone of wanting to get out of painful seasons as quickly as possible. But I also know there’s a reason that we don’t ground our kids for 5 minutes. We ground them, allow them to experience a season of discomfort, for days, weeks, sometimes longer. We want them to grow in that season of imperfection.
The difference is, adults don’t always bring their seasons of change upon themselves. Sometimes, oftentimes, that’s just life. The cruel, difficult, unpleasant reality.
I am still the kind of person that really hopes my seasons of change don’t last for too long. Because they’re painful.
Where I have changed, though, or become more self-aware, is how I deal with that difficult season during and after it has, more or less, passed.
I am learning how, as my priest has often talked about in theology, to hold more than one truth at a time.
Yes, it’s true that I’m looking forward more than I have in YEARS to Christmas. It is also true that it’s been 5 years since we lost my cousin, 3 since we lost my grandfather and uncle, and the impact of those losses is as strong as it’s ever been, and the holidays just won’t ever be the same without my cousin’s smile and hugs, without my grandfather watching football, without my uncle making smartass comments throughout our visits.
It’s true that I love my job, love the people I work with and for. It’s also true that I see things, as part of that job, that threaten to break my heart, more than I care to admit.
It’s true that I love my husband, my daughter, my friends and family. It’s also true that I need, and have to create, solitude for myself on a healthy and regular basis.
It’s true that I was raised in a highly conservative family and love my family deeply. It’s also true that I have become much more socially liberal and aware of the hypocrisy in much of the politics that I was raised around.
It’s true that I have a deep and abiding faith, one that has always steadied me and been an anchor for my soul. It is also true that I question, often, things about that faith.
I’m holding many truths, side by side, every day. And it’s not always easy, but I’m discovering, more and more each day, just how limited my own vision is when it comes to truth. And how not everything, how a LOT of things, are not binary, either/or, black and white.
A lot of people would disagree with me on that.
I think the world is full of parallel truths but, for whatever reason, people just don’t like that. They want easy. Simple. Don’t-have-to-work-too-hard-at-it theology. Politics. Relationships.
But until we realize how much bigger the world is than our finite brains can comprehend, until we really begin to look beyond our own biases, opinions, and familiarity, we won’t grow. We won’t ever evolve. We won’t ever be transformed.
I cannot imagine how my life would look now had I always stayed within the lines of what I thought I knew.
I would have missed so much. So much love. So much truth. So much beauty.
These seemingly contradicting truths are all around us. Every day. Every one of us has some of those in our lives. They are often the root for much of our inner conflict, trying, somehow, to reconcile them.
But we cannot always do that. Some realities seem meant to stay side by side, never blending into something seamless and easy. And it is in that discomfort, just like our children, that we have the opportunity to become better.
In my mind, the only way to have peace in this kind of world of parallel truth is acceptance and a yielding to the possibility of letting them change me for the better.
If you can’t blend, if you can’t reconcile, expand. Open your heart to the possibility that if these parallel truths exist, there might be others that you’d never considered. There might be more. They might be infinite. “Treasures stored in secret places…”
My faith, my politics, my life began to change when I stopped being so damn certain and opened my heart to all of the uncertainty I feared and began acknowledging truth, however it presented itself, even if it didn’t fit the mold of what I was used to seeing in the past.
Accepting truth when it comes to us like that is not easy. It seems to be our natural inclination to bristle up, reject the unfamiliar or something that may appear unpleasant to us. And I, sadly, see it more often than not, in religious circles.
This is so antithetical to Christianity. Jesus himself was, is, in many ways, the parallel truth of all time. That radical love – redeeming, unconditional – standing alongside traditions, teachings, from generation after generation, of legalism and black and white living.
If you call yourself a Christian, and the thought of that doesn’t challenge you, I don’t know what would.
We don’t like admitting when we are wrong, or that it’s even a possibility. I’m queen of this, so I can speak with authority on the subject.
But isn’t that what we want from.our children when we’ve placed them in a season of discomfort? For them to see where their behavior has been in error?
Why then are we so quick to point away from ourselves when we are trying to reconcile parallel truths?
Take some advice from me, one who has learned the hard way, with more stubborness than you can imagine:
Look inward. Open your heart. Understand that the world was not created in black and white and so neither should our thinking be so constricted and finite. Do you really think a God who showered the world with so much color and light meant for us to live such a black and white existence?
Embrace the color. And watch your world and the beauty of it expand in ways you never thought possible.