I struggle to articulate the discoveries I have been making about my faith, in part because what I believe cannot easily be squeezed into language. It cannot be condensed and compressed into words, black and white on the page.
I am only ever able to scratch the surface, if I am lucky.
Even if I had all the time in the world I would still remain unable to articulate the breadth and depth and complexity, the clear and pure simplicity, of the faith I am discovering.
This was not always the case.
I used to find my faith far more straight forward. For every question there was an answer, for every problem a solution.
I had always thought of the truth as,
Capitalised and in bold.
But I have been realising to think of my faith through binaries and certainties and unequivocal facts, is childish.
As I was pondering this, a verse from I Corinthians sprang to mind (chapter 13, verse 11);
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I dont want to remain a child forever but what does it mean to put away childish things? What does it look like to become a man (or woman)? How do I reach maturity?
I battled to formulate a definition or system by which to ensure I was no longer childish.
Unable to, I read on (verse 12);
For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
The placement of this verse, directly after the warning about behaving childishly, seemed interesting.
Maybe this was a description of the opposite, the alternative, to childishness?
Maybe to speak and understand as a child is to accept naive simplicity as truth, to live with a dualistic mindset swallowing ideas of complete right and wrong, to live in a world where there are two sides: goodies and baddies.
Maybe to behave as a child is to see and live in black and white.
I am beginning to understand that to move into maturity I need to accept that for now I see ‘in a mirror, darkly’, and I only know ‘in part’.
Part of growing up is to realise, for now, complete truth is not possible, I cannot see the whole story, or understand all that happens.
This rings true with my experience of life.
There are many, many things I dont understand.
There have been many times when I am sure God has got it wrong and frankly if he would only listen to me we could sort this whole mess out.
I have had, and continue to have, many questions.
But, I am starting to see that to mature is to recognise my ignorance.
Maybe my questions are a symptom of, not a reason to doubt, my maturity.
The world tells me to admit I do not know the answer is a sign of weakness. It daily reminds me to be unable to control the outcome of a situation or circumstance is to show vulnerability, and vulnerability is not desirable.
But as I understand what it means to mature in my faith, I am recognising that weakness is power, vulnerability is strength and acceptance of my ignorance is a sign of wisdom.
Do not be fooled. This is no cop out.
Recognition of my lack is not a reason to lie down and submit to anything and everything, to be passive or fatalistic.
To accept my weakness and my ignorance is to surrender to an invitation.
An invitation to relationship.
For it is impossible to be in relationship with someone who knows it all, and has no space for growth or learning new things.
I can’t form a relationship with someone while holding my fingers in your ears, or deciding I already know what they think about everything without waiting for their answer.
(Which I fear may have been how I felt about and treated God for a while).
This acknowledgement of my need, of the fact that I do not know the answers, is the first step into the mystery, to the beginning of adventure.
Like a child I have wanted the guiding hand of a parent to show me the way, to protect me and guide me. But it is only as I have begun to walk on my own I have been able to fully explore and discover what delights me.
It is only by letting go the safe, familiar, monochrome faith that I have been able to step into a world of colour.
A relationship of colour.
Of contrast and juxtaposition, of nuance and subtlety, of things I haven’t thought of or seen yet.
It is alive and it is complicated and it is beautiful.
And so I say:
Here’s to uncertainty! Here’s to doubt!
Here’s to growth and questions and possibility!
As I yield to this relationship I find myself falling head over heels, surprised, confounded, dizzied.
I find myself uncovering the desires of my heart.
I find myself.