My Reactionary Attitude
Just so you know, this is going to be a rambling, unfocused blog post because that’s how my relationship with God is right now.
The way I approach my faith and my theology has undergone so many shifts in the past few years, and I’ve realized that some of these shifts are unhealthy. I’ve written about the negative effects of having shed the little box of conservatism that I grew up in (see this post, and this one). But recently I’ve been mulling over how my attitude about Christianity has become largely reactive.
Christian people say things, or write things, or share them on Facebook, and I so often impulsively push back against what they say. You’re trying to tell me that the Bible is “clear” about this issue or that issue? Let me show you how incredibly ambiguous it is. You think that this is the way Christians should respond to such-and-such an issue? Let me show you how that person responded, and how I think it is a very Christian-like response despite looking nothing like what you’d think.
The list goes on. I resist the attempts of those around me to guide me to a place of agreement and mutual understanding, and instead dig for the flaws in their ways of thinking.
I think it’s because I’ve gotten used to being disappointed whenever I bring up my struggles with my faith to another Christian. Much more often than not, when I talk about my shifting ideas and my new ways of seeing God and believing in the Bible and interacting with other people as a follower of Christ, I am met with firm advice to remember that God is God, and I shouldn’t be reinventing His character to suit my conscience, or twisting his Word to make it believe what I want to believe.
So the conversation turns reactive. I push back against their ideas, trying to make them understand in my own naturally antagonistic, argumentative tone that there is more to experience in Jesus than the same old tropes we hear about time and again.
But then I feel like a hypocrite, because even as I try to convince the Christians around me that I have discovered something stronger, deeper, more lovely than what I was taught to believe growing up, I remember that I’ve lost that feeling and I’m in a spiritual dry spell right now. And if that is how I feel, who’s to say I am right about any of it?
But you know what?
It’s a good thing faith doesn’t depend on how I feel. Or on how distant God feels. Or on how much I am struggling with these strange new theologies I’m exploring, even as I see a ring of truth in them. Faith is more than that. It’s realizing that God is working in my life even when it doesn’t feel that way. It’s realizing he loves me deeply even though I alienate those around me with my rash opinions and my reactionary attitude.
I know that is all basic stuff; the kind of stuff people like me who have been a part of the Christian religion their whole lives should have nailed down and secure by now. Be kind and gentle, not argumentative. Know you are beloved anyway, don’t doubt it.
It is easier said than done, easier said than believed. But it’s true.