Red silks, chanting around a fire, dancing with skirts spinning, sceneries so beautiful I cannot seem to capture their marvelousness on camera or with words, moments so sacred I cannot capture their holiness with a pen, and must instead resort to sitting in their beauty and letting the silence around me be my prayer.
These have been the images that have filled my head over the last few days.
The air is getting colder. The trees outside my window have lost their leaves. The regular fall itch has struck once again, and I find myself frantic in a space of trying to order, and reorder, and make sense of this world around me.
One of the big topics I seem to be grappling with in this season has been redefining God. I'm at Bible school, constantly saturated in teachings and Bible readings and prayer meetings. And yet I find myself growing more and more uncomfortable with this reality.
Being at Bible college has done the opposite of, what I imagine, it has intended to do. Instead of growing closer to God as I learn more, I become more and more frustrated.
I am so submerged in teachings and lectures and theology and hermeneutics that I lose the mystery. In being surrounded by Christians day in and day out, always expected to grow and learn and teach, I found it so easy to conform to what I thought Christianity was.
Read the Bible for half an hour each morning? Sure, I can do that.
Attend a prayer meeting? I have it covered.
Write entire papers on how meditation fits into prayer life? Consider it done.
But in reality, all of these things were killing me on the inside. Jesus wasn't this magical, supreme, mysterious being anymore but just another name to be thrown into my paper. God fit very neatly into a box.
God as male, God as judge, God as gracious and merciful and loving with an emphasis on discipleship and wanting you to attend church every Sunday and read your Bible and pray all the time.
I became angry with the God that fit into my box. I became angry with theology, with Bible study, with discipleship.
As part of my field ed. ministry I volunteer at the women's shelter and the stories I come across break my heart. And the God I see as so neatly fitting into theology and hermeneutics and discipleship doesn't fit.
Part of this is my own fault. Part of it is almost inevitable when you're surrounded by Christian teachings and relationships all the time. It's so easy to fit into a role.
The theology of it all frustrates me. I don't want to know more about God. I want to actively participate in His ministry. I want to feed off His mystery. I want to sit at the table with sinners and tax collectors and break bread and drink wine.
I don't want the rules about God. I don't want people's interpretations of who God is. I want God.
I want the Eucharist, the sacraments, the constant in an ever changing world. I want the grace and the love without other people's definitions of them, and what they are, and who can accept them.
I understand that there is a place for knowledge, and that it is beneficial. But I don't want who God is to get lost in the knowledge.
I don't have all the answers for how this is going to look yet. I only know that I want mystery over meticulous answers. I want to encounter God in other places and people and walks of life and cultures and views. I want to encounter the God that isn't limited to the Christian bubble, and theology and church attendance and daily Bible reading.
There are a lot of things I feel like I'm supposed to be during this school year. I'm a leader, in more aspects than one. And I felt the pressure of it. I felt the pressure of needing to be an example and have it all together, and I excluded myself from grace. But I'm realizing I don't want to be identified by all those things. Not that any of them are bad, or that I want to shed them off. But at the core of my being, I want to be someone who is sustained off the mystery. I want to bathe in the unknown as well as the known. I want to be ok with not having the answers for everything, but being able to have the answer of love.
“God's grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God's grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word ... it's that God makes beautiful things out of even my own shit. Grace isn't about God creating humans and flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace - like saying, "Oh, it's OK, I'll be the good guy and forgive you." It's God saying, "I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.”