#20: Embrace mystery and change.

I am running behind on this series. (Obviously!) I thought for sure I’d have time on our Florida trip to keep up, but the trip was more of a whirlwind than we expected, and I didn’t write a single thing. Still, I’m determined to finish, even if the calendar says November. This wasn’t what I planned on posting today, but it’s what I’m thinking about at the moment.

Today, church was this funny mix of old and new: old and new Lindsey, old and new faith.

First, worship was led by Stu G, from the old band Delirious?. He sang songs I haven’t heard since high school, but the melodies were as familiar as an old friend. They reminded me of sitting at the piano in the house where I grew up, hammering out the chords over and over again. They reminded me of standing in the Sun Dome during Acquire the Fire, my worship sincere but perhaps naive. Back then, I thought I knew so much but had barely begun to figure it out. The lyrics meant more today, richer for the time passed and the sorting and shifting my faith has endured.

Then, Science Mike delivered the sermon. (If you can call it that. It was really more of a Q&A.) I’ve just “discovered” Science Mike over the past few years; I don’t listen to either of his podcasts with much consistency and haven’t read his book yet (though it’s on my list). Still, I follow him on-line, and I think he represents some of that shifting and sorting of faith I was talking about. He said that basically, his job is to come back to faith in public, sharing what he’s figuring out along the way. He makes me think about this embracing of mystery, doubt, and questions.

Meanwhile, we sat with two couples from our new small group, still in that awkward getting-to-know-you phase, that “Am I remembering this person’s name correctly?” stage.

And AJ, our new pastor, encouraged us to stretch out our hands as we prayed, just like the church of my childhood. And I did so, but not because I was afraid that the person sitting behind me might reach forward and lift my hand up himself if I didn’t. I stretched out my hands because I am learning to embrace the mystery and the connection between all these disparate parts of me: brain and heart and hand, body and mind and spirit, old and new and becoming.

The perfectionist in me is often resistant to change. There’s this internal sense that if I change, it’s an admission that the old way or doing things (or worse, the previous version of myself) was wrong. And we all know how much I hate to be wrong about anything. Of course, sometimes the previous version was wrong, or maybe just incomplete. When we sing a song at church that I haven’t heard since high school, I have a hard time distancing the song from the parts of my young faith that did not serve me well.

Today, we sang “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” and that whole process was less difficult. I’m not sure why. It was probably the just-right lyrics, proof that all truth is God’s truth, timeless and real regardless of who’s presenting it or who I am as I receive it. And it was Jesus’ presence, thick in the room. Because so often, when we want certainly, God instead gives us presence.

I am learning to embrace change, and in doing so, accepting the mystery of my faith and my own story. I am learning not to automatically dismiss the old as wrong, but to simply sift and sort as time goes by.

“If our theology doesn’t shift and change over our lifetimes, then I have to wonder if we’re paying attention.”

“You’ll love the song of the stars in your hair more than you loved the contents of your life, more than you loved tidy sealed boxes and certainty.” –Sarah Bessey in Out of Sorts


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