Reflections on things that matter.
In my last blog I was incredibly candid about how the last several months have impacted my life and my faith. Today, I am going to mine through the labels I tried on in order to give myself an identity and a truth during this crisis. One of the first labels I tried on was atheist. I tried to talk myself out of believing in God. I didn’t want to believe in God anymore. He’s an inconvenient fact. This label did not last very long. In fact, I don’t think it really ever took hold. There are too many tells in nature, human and otherwise, for me to be seriously convinced that there is no God.
So the next label was agnostic. There may be a God, but what kind of God is he? Certainly not a good God. A good God wouldn’t have let this happen to me. But that wasn’t consistent. The God of the Bible is good and just, but he never once says that life is something other than a struggle. I’m reminded of the quote from the movie The Princess Bride: “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.” Life is tough. Jesus said it, Paul said it, David said it. And yet God is good for some deeper reason. Some reason that is more substantial than circumstances. I can’t ditch my Christian programing because after examining it, the core of it doesn’t contradict. (Not to mention the fact that I can join the ranks of those who can say they “know” God. The illusion is broken once you have met him. You can’t pretend he isn’t there anymore, no matter how much you wish you could. The only thing you can do is convince yourself that you are crazy, and that’s almost worse than believing.)
The other label was the one I started with. Christian. Christ-follower. Well I haven’t been following. I’ve been lying on the pavement, face down, waiting for the world to end. So I suck at label number 3. What I have understood about Christianity all of my life is a life of action. It’s a life of pursuit and following and “reckless abandon” and a host of other words that mean “you do it.” Well, I hit the wall that forbade me “doing” anything else. My pattern is “try then fail, try then fail, try then fail…” so “doing” is out. Once again, face down on the pavement. So the “active” Christian label is out as well. Where does that leave me? Screwed. That leaves me in need. That leaves me dead on the ground unless someone comes to help me. That leaves me crying for help, unable to do things for myself. That leaves me out of all of my labels…except one.
Child. A child is totally dependent on its parents, and if a child is left out in the cold alone, that child will die. That is my label. I am a child. I don’t have the ability to take care of myself. The world is too big and too complex and my muscles haven’t developed yet and my brain is empty and I don’t have the tools for survival, and yet I must survive. I am wholly dependent on someone else to meet my needs. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. Babies don’t choose to ask for help, they have no choice. That’s my label. I am the child in need. I can’t sustain myself. I am not struggling anymore. I’m not deluding myself into believing I can do things for myself.
I thank God that “child” is the option that He accepts. Thank God for grace. “By grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8). I fail at being a Christian, but He doesn’t fail at saving me. I have nothing and I am nothing. He is everything and He has everything. So my label is Child of God because that’s all I’m qualified to be. No philosophy. No religion. I don’t have the answers. I never was his child before this. I was his servant, I was his warrior, I was his adult…but I was never taught to be his child. I was never trained in the art of “you can’t do it, let me.” So now, that is where I am.