Is Faith about choosing the right way to believe and then standing firm, or about the life of change it took to get there? I’m heading off today to a conference called, “Evolving Faith” Continue reading “Evolving Faith”
When You First Find Out Your Child is “Out”
Dear Fellow Blindsided Parent,
You now have a secret that is burning a hole in your heart — your child is gay. I’m writing to you because you’re on an unexpected journey with very few road maps. And likely you are as anxious to keep the secret (so you can still blend in), as you are to share it (so you won’t feel alone).
Knowing how alone you feel, I’m going to share 9 things I learned from Continue reading “When You First Find Out Your Child is “Out””
Unbundling My Bias
“Let me first say that I am biased now and always will be,” Rob said, after I finally found the guts to call him. It seemed safe to confide in him since he lived so far away.
I called hoping Rob would know how I felt – since he had also spent time in a close-knit Christian community that didn’t – on paper – approve of his daughter’s sexual orientation. I was still in the early stages then, not yet talking locally about it but needing to know I wasn’t alone.
He did know how I felt, and talked me through it. Continue reading “Unbundling My Bias”
I’ve been feeling out of control lately. Increasingly aware that loving someone means part of my heart is strapped into the passenger seat of their car. Though seat-belted, there is nothing safe about it. They are at the wheel, and their impulses affect my outcomes.
There is much in life I can control. I like those things. Even if they involve hard work. I can study to learn a skill that takes my career in a new direction. I can, with help from a good counselor, learn to speak up for myself and break the cycle of people pleasing. I can save some money, buy a map, and go on a trip to Ecuador.
Lately though, I’ve felt so out of control that I’ve done something desperate: Continue reading “10,000”
It’s time, again, to go out. Out beyond the known walls. This has meant so much more than a Sunday change. It’s about hearing new voices, meeting and listening to new people, reading new authors, engaging and participating: not as one with an agenda but as one who has a lot to learn.
I could have written this as a 21-year old finishing college, and I daresay I did. I went off my security grid and into a gritty part of LA, listening to lives as different from my own as I could imagine. Teens in the neighborhood didn’t give a damn about Continue reading “The Wall”
Stained Glass Communities
Note: this post is building on the image of seeing God through stained glass and will make more sense if you read Stained Glass first. But here is the key part, “we must take our art, our DNA, our human experience, and hold them up to the light. Imagining them projected onto an empty wall of a cathedral, we could glaze them into stained glass and let the sunlight shine through, casting images onto the concrete floor. It becomes a double projection: We are projected up into the form of stained glass, then God projects back through the stained glass.”
Well here we are, down on the cathedral floor of life, with that pure and holy light seen through the stained glass of our human experience. This is beautiful, but not without its challenges, which center around how that pure and holy light can be seen only *through* the stained glasses of human experience.
Some of you have long known this, and others will disagree and say we can know things for sure without the coloring of our own view. But I am in the middle of the transition from one to the other and so I will write to understand.
“Most people do not see things as they are, rather, they see things as they are.”¹
Our faith communities are formed around common projections
When our human experience changes, it can change our view of God and relationship to the faith community. We may be in a comfy situation, sitting on the cathedral floor centered around an image of God, appreciating the varying colors shining through our shared stained glass. We have something new to hold up to the light, but others around us may be content looking at the reflection they already see on the floor. Why do we have to stir things up?
Think about what holds your faith community together. Is it shared faith, or shared humanity? Faith seems the answer, but when we lose or change a few of our faith chromosomes, so to speak, do we still fit in the community?
In that time of change we may feel alone, wondering where we fit.
But why should our faith communities lose the wanderer in all this? Aren’t churches also filled with humans? If we share our humanity AND our faith, then when faith wavers we can continue in community. (And, paradoxically this has greater potential to bring us back to faith.) We might wonder aloud,
“What if we were united by our questions instead of our answers?”
If I think of the church as a family of faith into which many children are born or adopted, I can imagine the immense and unconditional love poured into each kid well before knowing how they will turn out. What they believe is not a pre-condition for family membership – in fact they have done nothing to earn it.
Now for some good news: If we’ve lived cloistered in a faith community it can be freeing to discover how much we have in common with once-perceived “others.” We can toss some of our fears into the communal bonfire and throw our arms around the others (like the random lady next to me at last summer’s Coldplay concert, draping her arm over my shoulder and full-voice belting out “Para-para-paradise“). I remember the dread of certain situations where I might be asked what I believe or why my morals were a certain way and need to have a succinct answer. Ironically it was also my secret ambition to live such a life that would cause others to ask me this. Now I’ve wrestled with so many core questions, I look forward to conversations with fellow questioners and am even more willing to explain the few answers I do have.
The thankfulness remains – we didn’t get here without our community – but we may flow through many communities in this life to do all the growing required of our garden. And we work to make our existing communities among those which accept the questions our shared humanity asks of faith.
♦ weekendswell ♦
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This is Stained Glass part 2, see also Stained Glass and Stained Glass Leadership
¹From Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Give faith room to be re-invented.
My faith can never stay the same, any more than my body could. Through the decades it has to grow, but most often that growth first feels like loss.
We’ve re-imagined our garage many times – car parking, storage, ping-pong table, gaming lounge – but we can’t just cram all those new things into the garage as is. It always starts with removing what’s there and a clean up that can feel like a good “scrubbing behind the ears”.
“Finish well” doesn’t mean ending life with the exact belief set we started with. We can live dogmatically – holding principles as incontrovertibly true – or we can strive to be corrigible – capable of being corrected or reformed. Both allow Truth to be capitalized, but only one allows Faith to be. As Anne Lamott writes, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”
Keep searching for further light to shine on the truth you “know”. It might look different in 5 years. Though Truth itself may be absolute, our grasp on it ebbs & flows, because now we see poorly as in a dim and dusty mirror. But soon we will see face to face, and this joy will surely also reveal areas we were wrong.
The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.
–Anne Lamott in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
♦ weekendswell ♦