Since my part-time gig in Darien ended the beginning of this past December, I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and moping. After working part-time and being away from my home church for six months, the longest stint I have done since staying home with my girls, re-entry has been more difficult than usual. Adding to the angst is my changing theology and beliefs. The ground is shifting, and sometimes I don't know where to put my feet. It would be great if I could call this a dance, but the music is changing as well, with long moments of deafening silence. So it feels more like a stumble in a dark room.
Yes, it's the midlife crisis thing, that indefinable term of birth pangs where you're not sure what you're going to get when the whole thing is over. You just hope you don't turn out to be an asshole like some other folks you've seen go through this. Cynthia, you could never be an asshole. Perhaps not but there are days I sure do feel like one.
Anyway, I've been trying to read some helpful books; NOT self-help but spiritually nourishing and challenging. Sue Monk Kidd's When the Heart Waits (which I alternately loved and wanted to chuck) and Ruth Rimm's The Lost Spiritual World, which I haven't finished yet. I've come to some kind of understanding of what I now believe about our human existence, which accounts for some of the tectonic shifts in my mood.
We cannot prove the existence of God, nor should we. Looking for proof is like chasing after wind, as silly as science looking for a unifying equation that will explain everything. Yet we as a human race seem to be under the delusion that it makes all the difference in the world which God we follow. We are one planet amongst billions of others that probably have civilizations that struggled with this very question eons ago. To me it seems that we need God for two questions which as of now have no discernable answer, in the macro and in the micro of living:
Macro: How did this whole existence begin? How is it all going to end?
Micro: How did we as individuals come into existence? What happens to us when we die?
And a third that encompasses it all: How are we to live?
When I was in seminary I took a class in object psychology, the premise of which, I think, was this: when we are children, we treat everything around us, including people, as objects, as things we can manipulate to get what we want. Our development into mature people depends on how we are able to internalize those objects, i.e., we learn to mother ourselves, father ourselves, befriend ourselves; we become able to take care of ourselves and help others, no longer needing to manipulate the world around us because we have become a part of it.
I have come to see our development, our evolution as human beings in a similar way. We objectify God because we are still learning how to live in the world. Basically, we as a human species are somewhere in our adolescence. We still need our Parent to tell and show us how to live, how to be moral, ethical, loving, compassionate people, because in our development, we are very much self-centered, like a teenager. We're trying to break away from our Parent, as evidenced by all the atheists getting their 15 minutes, but yet we don't know it all. We're still very scared and angry that one day we'll have to be grown-ups and be responsible and give up many of our toys and amusements.
But one day we will learn how to internalize what it is we need from God; we will have God's law of love written upon our hearts, we will have that same mind as Christ, we will be Spirit-led rather than led by our egos. That is the day that the kingdom comes on earth. And as His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, we don't need to believe in God in order to be compassionate and loving. We need simply to do these things every day.
But it's not that simple. We need reminders to practice our compassion and our loving. And that is why I need church, why everyone needs a community of some sort to be accountable to for their actions. We do not work out our salvation in a vacuum nor solely on our own. We're always bumping up against someone and their notion of what constitutes a human experience. If anything, we need at least to be forgiving. And I don't know how anyone comes by that naturally.
When I'm not working, I'm in a tailspin as to what my purpose is for the living of my days. The irony is that it really never changes: I'm called to be a minister of God's grace, period. Just because I'm not up in front of the church preaching and teaching and leading worship doesn't mean I can't do that. But that's only my old ego getting in the way, doing its best to stay alive, even if it makes me look an asshole in the process.
So I'm going to keep reading and thinking, less moping and hopefully more writing here. As I've said before, I do this for my own benefit and enjoyment, so you may have to wait patiently for my thoughts and feelings to coalesce into something coherent. In the meantime, we might as well laugh.