Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dichotomy of Faith

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Some days you get really tired of being tired. You know?

Between that and our discussion in our Wednesday night class, it had me thinking a lot about the dichotomy of our faith. There are two sides to it, and I feel like I am on this constant search for the "middle." Maybe there is no middle though. Maybe our faith is just supposed to be lived out in life's ups and downs, experienced in both ecstasy and agony. Maybe we ride the waves of our experiences without trying to have ultimate control over our reactions (Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should be UNcontrolled or without the overriding control of the Holy Spirit.) to attain some sort of perfect state of "middleness." That might not make any sense. I'll try to explain.

Our faith has two sides to it. Really, there are probably an infinite number of sides seen in an infinite number of ways... but two are easier to manage. There is the "up" side. Our faith has FREEDOM, JOY, PEACE. Our burden is LIGHT AND EASY. I truly believe this. I have experienced it in my life in multiple ways. I've had true, undeniable joy in my darkest moments. I cannot explain that apart from my faith.

On the other hand, there is the "down" side. The Bible tells us that all who desire to live godly will face persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Persecution is not fun. Struggling is not fun. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it IS a struggle.

How is our faith both of these things? I don't know, but it is.

Obviously, my desire is to live more on the "up" side than the "down" side. Who's with me?. Ha! :) Weirdly enough, I do see that in the most difficult thing I've had to face, losing my son, I had the most JOY. I wasn't happy, but I had true, amazing joy. But should I seek after struggle to pursue this joy again? I don't know.

I don't think we are supposed to live in pursuit of prosperity for prosperity's sake, nor do I think we are supposed to live in pursuit of suffering for suffering's sake. I think we're supposed to just live for Christ's sake. It's so simple but so confusing. I wish I could turn my brain off sometimes and quit overthinking everything. I wish I could fully accept that I'll never have this faith thing "figured out" and arrive at some perfect middle ground. I guess maybe that is part of my struggle.

I really find it strange that it is much harder for me to live on the "up" side and keep my eternal perspective in the everydayness of life than in tragedy. In tragedy, what choice do you have? You either run to God or away from Him. End of story. In life, it is complicated by a thousand different detours off the narrow path. I think I can handle things on my own. I think I can't handle things on my own. I think I'm overwhelmed. I think I'm exhausted. I cry. I scream. I have a fit. I don't understand why life is so hard. I feel guilty for feeling that way, because my life really ISN'T all that hard, especially in light of eternity. If this is the role God has for me to play, I really am VERY fortunate. It is an easy, easy part. I have not been tortured or martyred. I probably won't. My children haven't been stolen from me by malnutrition, disease, or poverty. As an American, I am among the world's wealthiest people (whether I see it that way or not).

So, why do I forget? Why is it so hard to stay on the "up" side? I think it's another of those simple and complicated things. Comparing my situation to the situation of others really is useless sometimes. I'll be honest. I have lots of times where I don't truly care about any situation but my own, and I don't like my own. It is in those moments where my weakness is revealed, and where He is made strong. Francis Chan says, "Why would you need a Comforter if you are already comfortable?" Why, indeed?. So maybe American-style stay-at-home-mom, part-time worker discomfort doesn't look as bad, from my perspective as the rest of the world discomfort, but it can be used in the same way... for my refinement.

The only thing that really helps me in the "down" times is to reaffirm my identity. I've shared those identity verses on here a thousand times, so I won't do it again, but it really does help me. I know I am most often defeated in my mind, and reclaiming my mind as Christ's territory is a huge win for me. However, I also think it's okay to just be "down" sometimes. It's no place to live, but God uses our downs, so I don't want to run from them.

This blog may not make one iota of sense, but I know what I'm trying to say. I guess I am giving myself permission to just be where I am, as long as I'm growing and learning in that place... up, down, or somewhere in between. This is life, abundant and full of emotion and experience, all for my benefit, all from a God who loves me. His heart is for me, and ultimately, no matter what the circumstance or emotion, I've put my trust in Him.

Hope to see you riding the waves of the bumpy seas alongside me, friends.

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