It’s funny when I think about it: it has become difficult for me to write any sort of “happy life” kind of post without also weaving in the BUTs. Perhaps this is my personal reaction to the stream of (what I feel is) superficial empty optimism bombarding me every day. Eg: I recently saw on instagram: throw kindness around like confetti. I thought, Confetti?!
But birthdays are a good time to express celebration, the things I appreciate about life…
The cheeky sass of kids, their unique personalities. The problem-solving genius of the engineers I’ve been working for. Actually this is one of the things I greatly enjoy: admiring different persons with different talents, gifts and skills. I enjoy the synergy, I enjoy the clashes. It’s been fun catching up with old classmates and friends and observing how they’ve developed in their lives. Identifying with their hopes and dreams and worries, from our shared upbringing. Many other things I enjoy: kind words, people who care, a bit (hmm…maybe a lot) of controversy…:D
But I am a more sorrowful person now. I haven’t been able to become untouched after becoming aware of the awful, the distressing, the worrying. Some of these realities traumatised me at first contact.
However, I have found a greater capacity to carry and process these things as I have found a surer ground and foundation of truth and hope.
Some years ago, I went through a period of intense questioning: what use is Christianity? Why is it so divisive? Why be a Christian?
I wrote to someone in late 2011:
The more I learn and experience in this world – meeting diverse people with very postmodern viewpoints where religion has no place, the more ill-equipped I find myself to handle all that. I almost find God has no relevance in the operation of society here. How do I develop a relevance of God in my work/life? How did you?
There is a lot of uncertainty that I am feeling – the Christian faith takes on so many different expressions – which one is the best? How am I going to live that out in my life? Christianity sometimes causes so much dissent and argument in modern societies such as Australia – almost losing it’s relevance. I don’t know if you can see that all these questions I have almost lead me to wrestle with my faith sometimes.
I was very much in turmoil then.
I won’t continue the story here, but answering those questions was so pivotal for me. While I have seriously tried to follow God for most of my life, this time, my search led me to something I could rest in spiritually and intellectually. It equipped me with a view of life beyond my struggles.
Something I read in Parker Palmer’s book The Promise of Paradox recently made me grin. He wrote about discarding a lot of his younger spirituality, and going to great pains to avoid Christian language. He wrote about the marketing problem it created for him, and that was funny too. But I grinned because as much as I have tried to express things in non-religious ways, I have always always come back to it.
It is what I have found compelling beyond everything else: Christ. That’s irreplaceable. The person of Jesus Christ: how could you say it differently?
Everyone I love, I have longed for them to know. Sometimes I’ve never told them, because it would’ve been too intrusive. Sometimes I hadn’t known how. Sometimes, just awkward. And sometimes, I have thought, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
p/s: To everyone who has been a source of support, comfort, joy, laughter, wisdom…thank you so much. To those who showed patience and grace and went the extra mile…you made a difference in my life. To those who set examples for me to follow…you will continue to make a difference for years to come.