I’ve been reading through my Lent book for the past ten days, and I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of fasts. This book doesn’t just talk about fasting from chocolate or the Internet. It goes down to the very basics of my faith, of our faith. In case you’ve forgotten, the book I’m reading is entitled 40 Days of Decrease, and the author is Alicia Britt Chole. Today, I want to talk about one of the fasts she suggests, one that reached down into the core of who I am.
It happened the other day. I was reading through the day’s entry, and I read such words as uncertainty, unknown, and mystery. Oh, this is something that’s easy, I thought. Wasn’t I writing my first thriller/mystery book? Then, I got to the day’s fast, and it hit me right in the gut. The fast was avoidance. What did I do when I faced the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable? If I was being honest, I would have to say I avoided it.
When I disagree with people or when they make me uncomfortable, I don’t stand up for myself. I don’t speak at all. I just walk away, many times with tears in my eyes. I don’t know how to address the conflict because I was never taught how.
I read back over the section again. It had nothing to do with what genre I wrote in and everything to do with what I thought about my faith. It asked questions I was not prepared to answer, but ones I knew I needed to answer. Here are the questions. “What does uncertainty trigger within us? What defaults do we gravitate toward when facing the unknown?” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) Even though I write about mystery, I don’t embrace it like I did when I was younger. I do my best to solve it because that’s what the readers want. But, we can’t do that with our faith, and I believe that’s what the entry was trying to say. We’re not going to understand everything we say we believe no matter how much we might want to.
So, this fast of avoidance actually brought out two facets of my faith and my personality. The first is directly related to my faith. Chole says it well in the book. “Mystery is a given for relationship between the Infinite and the finite.” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) I need to admit to myself I won’t ever understand everything about God or about my faith. I think that might be the only way I can fully embrace the work God wants me to do in this world.
The other thing it brought out was my tendency to want to control everything in my life, not just my faith. When a situation comes along I can’t control or when a situation turns out badly or not to my liking, I avoid it for as long as possible. I don’t want anyone to see my control slipping, and I definitely don’t like being in the middle of conflict.
God has convicted me about this issue though through reading this entry. He wants me to revel in and celebrate the uncertainty of life and faith. When I read what Chole says in 40 Days of Decrease, the first word that came to mind was ‘Yes!’ God told me, ‘This one is meant for you.’ “As we follow Jesus into uncertainty, we are free, in the words of Gerald G. May, to ‘join the dance of life in fullness without having a clue about what the steps are.'” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) That was a conviction and a push my faith needed. May we all dance in the dark through good times and bad, through laughter and tears, and through certainty and uncertainty. May we all, me included, have the courage to live in the fullness of uncertainty and not avoid it.
God’s blessings on you all today!