Monday, May 19, 2014

The rubber stamp


Photo by Sudhamshu Hebbar via Creative Commons license at Flickr

When he was little and still home with me by himself during the days, sometimes Kyle liked to 'help' me in my office. One of  his favorite ways of helping involved the use of (to him) the Holy Grail of office equipment...the rubber stamp. Position it over the line on the check (with my help), press down hard and 'ka-thunk' a perfect signature comes out. Every single time. John X. John X. John X. It isn't my signature, I'm not responsible for this check, John X is. I don't even have to think about it.

There have been many times in my life when I let someone else become my rubber stamp. I didn't have to think about anything, bear any responsibility for my own choices or thoughts because I just grabbed what that person said and 'ka-thunk' a perfect replica of their thoughts became my own. The problem with that is that sometimes deep inside I'd think "well, that doesn't feel quite right". But these were spiritual leaders, trusted friends, 'very smart people'. Surely they had to be right, and I, with all my uncertainties, fears and questions, had to be wrong.

And then, gradually, I began to change. I wasn't quite so quick to use that rubber stamp of approval for everything.  I began to question. Sometimes I even began to speak up when I felt I was right. I soon found that there were two types of people in my life; those who resented any questioning that implied disagreement, and those that welcomed the stretching and growth that questioning is supposed to bring. Sometimes my failure to rubber stamp those in authority ruffled feathers, sometimes it got me in trouble. Many times it showed me when it was time to walk away from a person or a situation.

Questioning can be a frightening thing. If you're wrong, you can't blame it on anyone else. It can lead you to see where change is necessary, and sometimes (ok, often) change is hard. But this is where the real growth happens. Looking at the thoughts and attitudes you've stamped over your life and deciding for yourself; does this fit me? Does it mesh with my ideals? What does God really have to say about the matter? It takes a lot of digging. It takes digging into Scripture with the desire to hear from God. It takes digging into history, digging into the news, expanding your knowledge. It takes a willingness to be wrong but to keep on digging down until you get it right.

I've learned that we don't always have to be in agreement with every single thing that someone says. We can disagree about politics, we can disagree about economics, we can disagree about what color to paint the walls. We can wrestle with the Bible and all of its many interpretations. And maybe the important part isn't so much the getting to the right answers, but the journey we take to get there, the willingness to soak ourselves in the questions, to ASK the questions.

Today, don't be afraid to tackle the big questions. It really is ok to ask yourself WHY you believe what you do. Put down the rubber stamp that someone else handed you. You are not a copy of anyone else, find your own voice and your own thoughts. Look to those around you for help, for inspiration, for the wisdom that they've gleaned through their own wrestling, but don't just let their answers become yours.

What questions are you wrestling with today? What rubber stamps do you need to give up?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lethe

Photo by dan_alive via Creative Commons license at Flickr

I have lost you to the sea,
Watching over the years
As bit by bit its waters advanced
Crumbling away at the ground of you
Until you were consumed.
All the words and memories,
Every grain of you
Swept out to into depths
Where I cannot follow.
I circle this unknown
Searching for any sign of you
Calling
Sending out the familiar signals
That would always bring you running
But your eyes are an ocean
With depths I can no longer plumb
And I wonder if you are there at all
Hiding in the deep
Calling out to be found.