Tuesday, January 11, 2011

who am i?

Warning: i'm about to pull something "meaningful" out of a few lines from Fantastic Mr. Fox. If this makes you cringe, wince, or react in any other number of (negative) ways, I apologize. But only kind of because the movie really is a good one and has, buried in it, a lot of worthwhile concepts. So i really don't care if you find this cheesy :)

Mr. Fox: Who am I, Kylie?
Kylie: Who how? What now?
Mr. Fox: Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I'm saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I? And how can a fox ever be happy without, you'll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?

So. That is the question: who am I? And, to follow up, what gives me purpose/significance? I ask myself these questions from time to time and so I assume you ask them, too...?

Somewhere along the way (probably more in Christian up-bringing than not) we get tired of asking these sorts of questions. Maybe this is because we're taught things like how to consider, defend, and debate the five (or is it seven?) "big questions" of life. You know the ones, "where did I come from?" "where am I going?" "is there life after death?" etc., etc. Don't get me wrong, there's value in this sort of thing. But I think it has to run the risk of becoming old. The system of {questions+right answers=assurance} necessarily faces the possibility of those questions becoming habit (dull, used up, boring), those answers becoming mechanical (practiced, versed, empty), and, therefore, that assurance ending up shallow (unsatisfactory, unstable, frustrating). This isn't to say that the questions, the answers, and the "assurance" aren't true or valuable or right. It's only to say that, at it's best, I'm not so sure the practice of faith allows such a neat formula. In other words, yes we can have our Apologetics and Christian Perspectives/Worldview classes. But let's not forget what life looks like where it happens. We can't divorce our apologetic or our "Christian" perspective from the lives we live every day. We can't divorce our sound theologies and doctrines from their practice--their interaction with the world. If we do (which we do do, because I do it and i know i'm probably not alone...), we end up with dull habit, mechanical responses, and shallow belief. And then one day we come back to those questions, after having put them away for awhile, and we actually hear them again. We might even be puzzled by our inability to really answer them. Gosh, we might truly wonder what the answers are, and if we ever really knew them. Then we have to relearn some things.

I think the practice of faith has more to do with creative living, honest doubting, small believing, constant seeking, and unashamed limping than we'd like to admit. But maybe that's just me. I'm the liver, doubter, believer, seeker, limper who watches a silly movie and hears an old question sound new: who am I? And i think this question really matters. It's a shame it becomes old, dull, boring. It's a bummer the answer(s) to it are mechanical, unsatisfactory, unthoughtful. It's too bad it's all "so cliche."

You know what? Some days I wake up sure of myself. Other days I wake up and think, "gee, what happened?"
I think this is the faith journey. The becoming.

Faith is so daily. Today I might trust God "easy" but tomorrow wake up wondering how on earth I can surrender and relent my fears, longings, questions, doubts, excitements, desires...
And so I remind myself that I'm part of a larger story--the story I experience every day around me; the "old" story I read/hear about; the "new" story I hope/live for. I try to bring old, used-up parts of my faith before God to be made new. He makes all things new.

I guess all this is to say that sometimes our faith really does need refreshing and our questions need new vigor. Our answers need reviving and our assurance needs more depth. It's not that we don't believe or can't--more that we won't, because we fail to just be our honest selves in it all. Our true, broken, needy, valuable selves.

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