“The more I see of this life, the more I feel unqualified to write through it. And every day confirms my belief in the inconsistencies of my own character, and the little dependence that can be placed upon what seems to me to be good, convicted sense.”
That’s my Elizabeth Bennet take on blogging (and, really, life) these days. I’ve read old journals from years gone by, perused posts from my old blog, and marveled at what I knew at the age of 16. What I was learning at the age of 23. How well and confidently I could identify truth, wrestle through convictions, and plant myself in certain viewpoints – as recently as 3 years ago.
One thing I know from 2020’s year of crazy: I just don’t know.
From real deliberations over commands in Scripture – how do we show the hospitality we’re told to practice during quarantine? How long (if at all) is it appropriate to “forsake the gathering together” during a time of widespread health concerns? To what extent do virtual capabilities substitute for true, personal interactions? (If you have answers to these questions please tell me) – to a growing awareness of my great ignorance about the Bible (and doctrine…and church history…and Scriptural context…and…), to an overwhelming feeling of lost-ness in regards to relationships – how do I connect with and stay available to friends during crazy times of quarantine? How does one mend relationships that have been shattered? How can I form new relationships at a new church while masked, 6 feet apart, and standing in a parking lot? – I find myself constantly using the language of lament in my prayers. “How?” I entreat, and, “How long?”
The enormity of the wisdom of God in these times looms above me. Veiled. Intimidating. Unknown.
You know what I mean, right? How something can be comforting and intimidating all at once? It’s so high above me, so much broader than I could ever comprehend, that I can’t help but be overwhelmed, and even afraid. But oh, the sense of relief! Every day reinforces the panicking fact that I can’t be prepared for everything, can’t have all the answers, can’t know the proper, loving responses. But at least there’s someone who can. Who is.
A couple months ago I was confronted with the question, “In what aspect of your life are you most likely to pride yourself?” and after very little consideration the answer was “my mind”. The ability to understand, to reason through things, and to draw reliable conclusions is where I find security. Foolishness, I know, since all that matters in both this life and the one to come is knowing Christ, but the ability to think has always given me a place and sense of identity. Then 2020 happened, and I’ve been forced into familiarity with not only “I don’t know” but also “I can’t know.” It’s humbling, scary, disorienting, and incredibly freeing, if only I can release my death-grip on knowledge. If only I can learn to see my value in being loved by my dear Father, rather than in holding a well-formed opinion. While it should be a weight off my back, it’s hard to retrain the subconscious habits of the mind.
But I’m trying.
Because not knowing is the weakness I fear the most, in literally every situation, and weakness – this free-fall of releasing an identity I was never meant to have – means hope. Hope for what I most want: Christ’s sufficiency of grace, his “power…made perfect” (1 Corinthians 12:9).
So from a year of “I-don’t-knows” (and all the shifting [mis]conceptions about myself in the process), I’m settling to write what God has done. The coming posts are merely markings on the doorjamb, measurements of the height of someone who is still far from grown. Are they exhaustive, completed lessons for me? Impossible. But let’s start here. It’s what I’ve got so far.