things you should know by now

I'm working on other post ideas, but as it stands, the first post of 2008 will be comprised of borrowed words. Props to Jason Boyett, author of Things You Should Know By Now.

The thing is, lately I've been struggling a little bit with the concept of faith. I seem to have been caught up in a couple of factors, including sleep deprivation, heightened anxiety, and a postmodern culture. My faith is something that I value, but I don't always trust. I can't seem to beat off all the doubts that creep up on the low days. Sometimes I feel buoyed in my faith, other times I just try to ignore it because I'm not really sure. The bottom line is, though, that I always come back to God. Jesus, I have my issues with. Christians, I have my issues with. Spiritual advisers and leaders and and authorities and teachers, I have my issues with. But God, in my Judeo-Christian understanding of him, and in some part through the assistants of particular people who also have faith in him, has never let me down.

I'm going to paste a portion of the epilogue of the aforementioned book. I think the author was a few years older than I am now when he published the book, but all of his words still apply to me now.

"I believe in God. He knows me, too.

At times it can be a difficult belief, one that doesn't come as easily to me as it did when I was younger. It's challenged on a daily basis by the injustice of our fellow humans and the ridiculousness of the religious, by the prevalence of unmitigated evil and uninhibited disaster. Ten years ago, my faith was the simple assurance that the Judeo-Christian Jehovah, as revealed in the person of Christ, was and is absolutely real. Today, on a good day, I still hold to that. But on a bad day? On a bad dayfaith for me is living as if God's real, but ... wondering.

Mine is a limping, bandaged version of Christianity, one that is more likely to wince at the weirdness of my faith than embrace it. I cringe at the Falwells and Robertsons. I groan at the Left Behinds. Im not amused by American Christianity's rising irrelevance, its gradual movement to the fringes of culture while, nevertheless, attempting to appropriate the music and entertainment and marketing strategies and political tactics of that very culture for its own use. I'm no fan of the way we try to impose man's structures on God, because I seriously doubt hes just a glorified, holy version of the white republican male. Im tired of the bull-headed dogmatism of the evangelical church and its increasingly misguided priorities (Like focusing too intently on political issues like school prayer, social issues like homosexuality, or eschatological issues like the second coming - at the expense of immediate needs like hunger and poverty.) - but despite the baggage, the Christian church is a foundational part of my life.

It's flawed and ugly and, often, just plain wrong. The thing is, so am I.

Thats why the church remains my home. Its where I live."


no subject

'Time' has captured my attention, lately. I spend too much time thinking about how I should be spending my time. I reflect often about the 'eras' of my life, and how the way I think about time has shifted. Normal stuff - while I was in school, my 'years' were divided at the summer. After graduating in May, things went to crap for the second half of the year, and stayed in the crap for the following year. Now I'm noticing that transitions are happening around the same time that the calendar changes. Things were hellish in 2006. Things looked up in 2007. I'm beginning 2008 as a newlywed.

Good or bad, time scares me.

Time means change. And change is scary. Even good change. ESPECIALLY good change. I'm used to bad times. Bad times are comfortable to me. Dark clouds hang over my head a lot. And when things are dark, all you have to do is survive. It's easy to keep plugging away and hope for better days. Trudging your way through life is the easy part. At least, it is for me. I'm good at hope. I'm good at resilience and bolstering myself up. I'm good at toughing it out and making due.

It's when it's time for me to stand on my own two feet that I start to crumble. When I'm not so tightly constricted by life-sucking trauma, I get scared. It's time to move forward, not just survive. Progress is required. Proving myself is necessary. There's so much pressure involved. And the stakes are high. Very high. Too high.

This is the make-or-break time. When the efforts of the past 6 years of school and post-grad work turns into a real career. When I'm supposed to make the transition from eating pasta every night, to being able to invest in a retirement account. (After all, the sooner the better on that thing.) Take care of the house. Take care of the husband, who is in school. Take care of the dog. He needs his heartworm preventative prescription, and that costs about 60 dollars too many. Bring in enough to turn the heater higher than 60 degrees. Find a job that pays enough to get you to the next level, and find it yesterday.