Okay, I can’t speak for everyone, but it certainly applies to me!
My adventures into the great unknown – better known as graduate school – began just as it ended three years later. My initial question, “What am I doing here”? – morphed into my final, most profound, and current question, “Really! What am I doing here”?
There I was, barely a high school graduate, with just a bit of junior college and a whole lot of “know-it-all” religion, running headlong into theological studies. Fortunately, at the outset, I agreed to allow God to have his way with my pebble-sized faith and my Goliath attitude. He wasted no time. From my first class to my last exam, God pelted me with enough “what ifs” to render me stupid. “Linda, what if some of the stories in Scripture aren’t “factual”? What if I don’t have a beard? What if heaven’s not a “place”, eternity is here and now, and my “church” includes everyone – even those you don’t like? How’s your faith holding up so far?”
My faith was black and white, and it seemed so simple. In reality, “religion” may be, but true faith is hardly black and white, yet, paradoxically, it’s simpler. For example (here’s the moron in me): I had a long list of people who were destined for hell. Not specific names (well, okay, I had some), but rather, specific attitudes and actions that qualified. To be fair, I myself slipped on and off that list all my life for not following the “rules” – even when I didn’t know what the rules were!
Reality tells me that things are not what they seem and only God can know what is in the heart. My neighbor may seem like the jerk of all jerks, but only God knows him well enough to decide that. I Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God may very well agree with my “jerk” label of someone, but he says in no uncertain terms, “He may be a jerk. But he’s MY jerk, so lay off”!
In my first semester at Aquinas, I encountered the infamous St. Augustine, considered one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of all time. At the end of his life, he decided he was an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about (see, I’m in good company!). So he quit writing and speaking. It didn’t take me that long. I’m sure God is still rejoicing over that!
Fortunately, deciding you are a moron early on has some unforeseen benefits:
- You no longer have anything to “prove.”
- “Rules” transform into possibilities.
- You encounter the living Christ, in the here and now – not the long ago, far away, dead and buried – thus rendered irrelevant and easily dismissed, Jesus. Nice guy though.
- Righteousness gives way to solidarity with all your brothers and sisters in faith, or no faith at all.
- Unknowing looks more like wisdom than stupidity.
- Humility flourishes. Acceptance of self, of God, and of others is borne of true humility.
- Loving relationships carry no conditional baggage.
- Faith and trust in a loving, extraordinary God are now actually possible.
- And finally, you can live in this messy, sometimes violent, darkened world, with a sense of hope.
Lord knows I don’t have all the answers. “As a matter of fact, I do know that, Linda!”
Actually, I probably don’t have any answers. But I now know that my only source of grace and hope lies in the mystery of a God that holds it all together, and holds us gently and lovingly in his embrace.
Now I can say with great conviction, “I am a deeply loved moron”!
Can I get an AMEN?