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Day 7–I am thankful for Words I Can Hear

November 8, 2013

I think I must have hearing problem sometimes.  People say the words and I can’t hear them.  Something clicks in my brain and all I can hear is what I disagree with.  I am judgmental and argumentative when I think someone is too sure of the answers.  When things are black and white, a right way and a wrong way, I am done.  I need space in other’s words for uncertainty and humility, for surely if someone acts like they know all the answers they are wrong.  It is impossible to live knowing all the answers to everything and live an authentic life, my brain says.  (See, and here I am doing exactly what bothers me so much about some others…speaking with certainty.  I don’t claim not to be hypocritical sometimes.)

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I am big on accuracy.  Curtis and I were talking, kinda joking, about this the other night.  If someone speaks in hyperbole, I feel compelled to correct them.  If someone gets the facts wrong, it takes serious will power to just let them be wrong.  So when someone approaches faith and God with complete certainty, I have a hard time.  I find it difficult to speak in absolutes about God, except to say that I am God’s beloved child and so are you.  Yes, I can say with certainty that Jesus was fully human, yet fully God, died on the cross, and rose again on the third day, and that changed everything.  I can say the creeds with confidence.

It’s the other stuff I struggle with.  When people talk with certainty that Jesus says we should go to war or exclude people based on their sex, their race, their economic situation, their jail record, their sexual preferences I struggle.  I struggle when people say with certainty that it is God’s will that bad things happen and women are made to serve their husbands.  I struggle when people tell me I should give a tenth percent tithe and that God loves a cheerful giver, so I need to give ten percent and do it cheerfully because God says so.  I don’t work in absolutes and when people go there with matters of faith, I struggle.  I argue.  I  no longer hear their words, I just see their arrogance and pride and certainty and argue.

Again, Curtis and I were talking about this.  It’s not that I struggle with authority, but I do kinda.  I struggle with authority when I think they’re wrong, because being right and accurate and speaking the truth is the most.important.thing.   This hasn’t been much of problem in my work situations, the boss is the boss, I do what they ask and go home and grumble (loudly) when I disagree.  Where I struggle has been with church leaders.  Whether it be pastors, bloggers, or authors of books, if they come across full of certainty and confidence, speaking in absolutes, telling me how things must be (and by how things must be, I mean things like involvement of war, infant baptism, and living with abundance–all things that have their roots back to my birth in my faith development), my brain switches to argue mode.  I judge people unfairly.

This fall, I’ve fully come to realize how argumentative I get (I’ve always known this about myself, but it was taken to a different level this fall).  It started with a Sunday School series on parenting where I couldn’t hear anything the video speaker said after I realized he condones spanking and believes that women are made to submit and help men.  Instead of taking the nuggets of parenting suggestions I could use from the series (like some of my friends were able to do, even though they fully come out at the same place with marital relationships and spanking), I argued with him in each and every lesson.  It happened again when I read a highly acclaimed book written by a pastor this fall.  I agreed theologically with everything the author said, but his voice was so confident, so authoritative, so this-worked-for-me,-you-must-do-the-same, that I couldn’t hear him.  I just read what I perceived to be a certainty (and that’s the funny thing with author’s–you don’t know them so judging them from their writing isn’t always accurate).  I wrote about not liking his book and a commenter on the post shook me back to realizing how I was being too harsh.  I was reacting to a perceived certainty instead of looking for the nuggets and for his humility.

DSC_0351With all that said, I am thankful for those words I can hear.  I know I miss a lot.  I want to not.  I don’t want to be unteachable (I remember being told that by a high school track coach once.  I wasn’t teachable.  She was right in that instance.  But she was wrong in the information she was giving me and I couldn’t get past that to find the nuggets).  Being unteachable makes me just as proud and haughty as those people I am reacting against.  It makes me no different.  However, there are voices I can hear.  I have a whole list of those in my book list.  All of those voices leave space for uncertainty and recognize we can’t possibly know all the answers about God.  They tend to be comfortable with the space of unknowing.

I am reading a book right now by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  She is a Lutheran pastor who Curtis and I went to hear speak a month or so ago.  Her book is a combination of memoir and a “Best Of…” sermon summaries.  I can hear her.  I can not stop reading her book and I can hear her.  I can hear her words of grace.  She talks a lot about how she’s messed up or gotten something wrong.  She talks about being fully human.  She talks about truth.  I finally understood the reason being infant baptism, and it turns, out, I agree with it.  Since being a Methodist, I’ve had a pastor or two try to explain to me the value of infant baptism and I couldn’t hear them.  When I was telling Curtis last night that she finally helped me understand, and the gist of what he said, Curtis didn’t find it earth shattering.  He’d heard that years ago from our pastor.  I couldn’t.

I am thankful for words I can hear.  I am thankful that God loves me so much that there are people out there preaching and writing books that speaks to me, who is hard of hearing.  I have been overwhelmed by God’s love the past day as I’ve read Pastrix and for a few hours, have been able to see others through lens of God’s love.  I can hear.  I am thankful their voices that can get through even to me, letting me know that I am God’s beloved child, even with a hearing difficulty.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lara permalink
    November 8, 2013 9:05 am

    Thanks for sharing this reflection! We are all in stages of awareness, of the world, our faith, and ourselves no?

  2. November 8, 2013 5:55 pm

    I am glad to know I am not alone feeling critical and judgmental (or cynical?) after reading the beginning of this, but let’s see where this goes… [But, I also am or have been willing to admit I talk in circles, at times. I change my mind and/or weigh sides as I speak sometimes. I am not necessarily being “wishy-washy” or “flip-flop” but actually sorting out the “truth” myself. But, usually, once I take a stand on something, I stand by it until someone gingerly convinces me otherwise:P]

    I hear ya about the religious stuff. I was a bit concerned–and maybe there is something yet to read–that you might be one of the many giving up faith/religion in this modern age of disappointment/betrayal, excuses and cyber-escapism. Yes, why do some people use the names of the “revered” to back their causes that way?

    I suppose I suffer a bit of the authority grumble behavior, too. Especially when a decision is made or a “policy” enforced that seems backwards or ineffective to me. Or, when what is “enforced” makes customer service feel like a robot job. What’s to stop someone from replacing me with a robot if my job is reduced to a command function? If there is no human element required or beneficial to the job, how long before technology school students replace us all with robots for the benefit of the rich guys (or gals) who buy them? Authority and I buck antlers when I say, “That’s stupid. No one should be pressured to accrue more debt or take financial risks like gambling. If we are servicing the customer–if we want them to come back for more of US–then we help these people. We don’t just take money from them for services JUSTLY rendered.” [I say that in regards to lesser services that may be offered by some. Half-ass service.]

    You don’t think there is any possibility that God COULD want or make bad things happen? Not even if it was part of a bigger picture we just don’t yet understand? The tide erodes the beach. Fires burn down forests. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, usually. But, I think many if not most of us suffer (increasingly so with dependency upon technology) an inability to cope with “malfunction” or “shutdown”. We’re gradually losing our grip on coping with loss. We need to puff ourselves up and accept that crap might happen. We can’t insure ourselves or bombard ourselves with anti-oxidants and live forever. If people like us were granted immortality, what would we do with it? Would we really use it wisely? Or, would we waste it just the same? Just like why do we need to relocate to Mars? Or keep changing computers when “last year’s” system worked just fine?

    Money is a big dark root in much if not most of this life for people right now. The power/influence of money is having a dramatic effect on so many minds and lives. Like the Midas touch. People can’t be as generous with their time or hearts because they need to pay the bills of living someone–who perhaps initially was trying to create a sensible system of order for a growing population–gave them. Salaries/Wages are slowly pushed up to compensate for changes in costs, but it’s still lacking in some way. And, people still resort to tricks/stunts to cheat the system. Partly, because so many “authorities” push these gambling options. Take a chance here and get free this or that. Spend a dollar here and win a million more. Ya never know. And, then there’s the insurance racket.

    Now that you mention it, that would be awful…to attend a class of some kind and be unable to get any good out of it because you(I) get so “locked up” inside from a viewpoint I don’t accept. I’ve been there. It’s a nightmare. I have a similar reaction occasionally to bad or questionable movies. I see or hear something that shocks me and become distracted with my thoughts on the matter.

    Despite what others may think or say of me, I don’t feel haughty or proud of my views, always. I am merely feeling and reacting or thinking and considering possibilities others don’t care or want to hear. I give more thought to things that others simply accept and do. But, I don’t think I am exactly better than someone else. I just prefer my perspective, maybe. I don’t think less of a person. I just don’t like their choice/s. I’m not fond of tattoos or body piercing. You might still be a great person on the inside, but what you do with your outside bothers me. It’s like smoking or getting drunk. Should I be just as tolerant around smokers and drinkers as I am with those who are sober and sensible? I don’t like the sight of blood. Should I socialize with a hungry vampire or chat with a lion while it tears apart some other creature? I’m not a better “animal” than the lion. I just don’t have the stomach for what it’s doing.

    So, in short–if I can still say that–what it seems we may both need (if I am okay to say so) are more people we share views with to have a “like discussion group”. I know I definitely lack the like-minded folks so many “motivational speakers” mention as the key to happiness. And, I can’t seem to just find them on the grocery store shelf. There’s no aisle for “the right people”. And, I’ve already tried communicating with so many.

    I hope you can hear or read some “nuggets” in all that I just said:P And, if not, my apologies for saying too much.

Trackbacks

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