So stole my title from the great Maya Angelou–regarding faith she says this:
“I’m grateful to be a practicing Christian. I’m always amazed when people say, “I’m a Christian.” I think, “Already?” It’s an ongoing process. You know, you keep trying. And blowing it and trying and blowing it …”
I think I have been a fake Christian all my life. Like so many things, I tried to learn my role, master the script, and become conscious of the rules of this particular game. I was taught, albeit unconsciously, by my dear aunt, to “clean up my act”—the implication here that my life was more like that of an actor than a flower in a meadow. I needed to work at looking and sounding good because, at least in my family’s mythology, I wasn’t naturally acceptable as is.
I was never taught that you could “blow it”and be okay. In fact the shame from blowing it, a spiritual after-burn, culturally concocted I might add, was what hurt me more than the error itself. I am healing up in these damaged, tender parts of my life simply by being okay with my mistakes, egotism, selfishness, and down-right stupidity. It seems like when I comfort these orphaned little children, I can feel Jesus right behind me, breathing hope and powerful restoration into these broken places.
So these last couple of years I have been learning the lesson of love and acceptance—of my self, my dear family, and others. And let me be abundantly clear, the work of spirituality, at least for me, does not end with acceptance. It is a key to a door to a new life. Yet one of the first stops on the path is humility. It is the spirit of there-is-some-work-to-be-done here; it is the still small voice that says “keep that ego in check.” I am going “Oprah” on you right here…this is what I know for sure…once I think that I deserve to be noticed, get competitive, or try a syruping-sweet-way of ingratiating myself to get what I want, my ego is going to get a-wamping. It is like when you are oblivious to a low threshold and your forehead cracks as it comes in contact with a two by four. For years this would happen, and I would not get it. I just thought people were shitty…which on any given day they are, but I didn’t get my part in the drama—this is the great truth: If I have a problem with some part of my life, I have a HUGE part in the why-this-is-happening-to-me thing. End of story. I have to reflect. Then the answers come. You see Jesus is magical. He is the fairy-godmother-good-therapist-tough-love-friend-life-coach kind of divinity. He’s a great teacher, too. He lets me figure things out, make a mess, get sad, and then he whispers a salient bit of wisdom that allows me to move forward in my life. This is Christianity to me.
Now, I think I am just beginning to become a Christian, and this is why: I am just beginning to have faith—to get how it works. I come from a family of hand-wringers. We hope God will come through, but deep in our hearts we believe he will fail us. Something can’t come from nothing. We have all been schooled in Newtonian physics, right? There are laws to this, right? But get this, Newton at the end of his life was fascinated with alchemy and that the Holy Scriptures were kind of like some HTML code…a living, changing, relevant voice. Here’s something more, again from science: Bill Brighton says that scientists can calculated back to the beginning of the Big Bang….ten to the negative 43 seconds past the moment of creation, and that at that point the universe could fit in the palm of your hand! He goes on to say that science, here, sounds more like religion…that indeed something can come out of nothing.
So here’s my little vignette for the week. Anyone who knows us, knows that we have had a lifetime of financial woes. I am quite certain we are not alone in this fact. Also, we have been amazingly cared for. Something works out. But here’s the confession: even though we have been blessed with help—always— I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This month will be the month we will fail. Thoughts like that. But last week something happened. I got tired of that voice and I got tired of manipulating some outcome to make us okay. And it occurred to me to try faith. You know the kind Moses would have had to have on the banks of the Red Sea with a million freaked-out people and the state-of-the-art Egyptian military on his heels. So Phil and I said a little prayer over our need…$430 for bill…and waited. “God will make a way,” was the thought in my head. That was it. The bill was due Friday. Phil checks his phone Wednesday, and someone wants him to work. He makes $490…I kid you not, by Friday. Soooo cool. And the best thing was that I was calm and at peace, just like the scriptures talk about. It was like I did a 180 in my spirit and was over my way of doing things. I was able to draw from the bank of the universe.
I am so going to try this on all the other “Red Seas” in my life. My prayer is simple: God, I am excited to see how you are going to make a way for us amidst this sea of impossibilities.
And I figure that if he did the Big Bang he can probably handle my need for tires, cash for the rising sea of bills, college for Sam, and all the other seemingly impossibilities that bully me on a daily basis.
I think I am moving out of the fake Christianity…to being a follower of The Way.*
*Original name for Christians