In the spirit of full disclosure. I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m not even disgruntled. But I am reflective. I’m thoughtful. And I read books and listen to people. This makes me concerned for the world around me. Dogmatism has a way of reducing the world to good and bad binaries. Having renounced dogmatism, although I’m still aware of its residual influences in my life, I am endeavoring to see the world differently. I now understand that I may hold two opposing ideas in tension without having to settle on either of them. I now understand that there is both good and bad in most everything I’ve experienced. It took me a long time to discover this truth. I’ve spent a great portion of my life defending positions that I later found out to be untrue. I’ve also condemned positions as wrong that upon further examination have proved to be right.
I’m sometimes accused of being arrogant. Not so. I feel like I’ve gained more humility, empathy, and compassion than at any other point in my life, with still a great deal more to learn. I now understand that I’m guilty of things I’ve condemned others of doing, and far worse. I’ve been mean, judgmental, unforgiving. When you see yourself authentically, you lose, you fail, you suffer, but you gain a great deal more empathy for others. No one is perfect, no one has it all together. We are all hypocrites, just in different areas of our lives. I am confident in this. And now I’m far more comfortable in my skin than at any other point in my life, as a result.
And I’m secure in the love of Christ. But I’m not secure, in my emotional, physical, or intellectual status quo. I desire change, growth, evolution, for the better. Sometimes religion likes to convince us that if you get that part of your life that everything else will come together, all problems will cease, and life will be altogether good. Jesus should be “exhibit A” that this isn’t the case. He lived a perfect life, sinless, and selfless. Yet He was murdered by the State, at the behest of religious leaders who felt threatened by His gospel.
Indeed the Bible has demonstrated itself to be a sustainable book of wisdom, precisely because it tells the truth. It doesn’t just contain “uplifting and positive” passages. But rather, in its pages, all of human depravity is put on display. The men and women we lift up as spiritual and moral heroes, are guilty of adultery, debauchery, and murder. We can claim to be better, but we aren’t. Given the right circumstances, pressures, and opportunities, we might all surrender to our darker instincts. So why do we condemn others when they do?
Why do we take offense when our racism is pointed out? Instead of becoming defensive, why don’t we sincerely repent and seek to restore relationships? Why don’t we seek to remedy problems in our Nation, instead of defending our current political position?
Imagine if the institutions we serve embraced leaders who acknowledge changes in doctrines and then apologized for unintended negative consequences of those doctrines. What if Presidents, governors, senators, and representatives humbly acknowledged mistakes, and lived to learn and serve, rather than to merely embrace what is politically expedient.
I don’t share everything in my life or in my thoughts. Mostly I hide the parts of me that I think would make you think less of me. We all do this. This is where my quest for authenticity falls short. I justify it, perhaps rightly so, by thinking not everyone has earned the right to know everything about me. So I continue to manage what you see, hear, read. It is a highlight reel, but hopefully it is also more. An opportunity for all of us to reflect, grow and change. The scary thing about change is we can’t be sure what awaits on the other side. But I do know this, what doesn’t change eventually ceases to exist.
I insist on my ability to change and continue to live. You should too.