When Out of Sorts author Sarah Bessey posed the question, “What did you used to think but don’t think anymore?” I realized I could’ve answered in bullet points leading active verbs, could’ve made a full-on documentary complete with singing cartoon interludes, and could’ve packed crates full of flyers dropped from 10,000 feet and scattered into countries at a time.
People are tied up in my opinions, and opinions are tied up in my people. They’re tethered to one another as I am tethered to each, and so when my opinions get far from my people or my people get far from my opinions, I feel pulled a little taut.
My divided mind, completely unassisted, pulls itself taut sometimes, too. If I were a superhero, my origin story would lead you to label me mutant. My flashbacks would cut from bottles of anointing oil and prayer cloths to pipe organs bathed in stained-glass-tinted sunlight. I studied John Wesley and Oswald Chambers with Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson preaching at me in the background.
I might’ve attended a Carman concert. I also might’ve attended Hell’s Fury, a “here’s hell” house at a local church. Both left marks where love could’ve been.
By the end of high school, I was reading everything I could get my hands on. I’ve changed not at all in this regard.
I chased my childhood with a philosophy degree I picked up alongside my English one—and fell in love, too, with all those questions. I cannot resist a good mess.
After all, I know my own. A story I tell sometimes is about the elderly man in the OB/GYN’s office who looked at me, nineteen and nine months in, and said, “Poor baby.” I published a poem years ago called “Under Construction” about how I wore those words like skin after I couldn’t help but wonder if he meant my baby or me.
Other, worse words would follow. Casseroles were delivered with advice about what to do next since God clearly “didn’t have a plan for this child.”
Disenfranchised, weak, and wounded at the time, I had no words.
I have them now.
We are called to love. Period.
It’s so incredibly simple, it’s a marvel we get it wrong so often. Although, I get it, the stakes are high. If that’s our only calling though, we had better get it right.
The trouble is I keep hearing that we are called to love one another as Christ loved the Church—which is to say we should love…
despite our superficial good intentions,
even though we have our own loud blueprints for peace,
with our tongues lodged in cheeks,
with our inadequate words and our vapid thoughts and our cheap acts
even though some of us are savages, gray in the heart, worn down to the bones,
and despite the fact that we’re absolutely clueless about how to love him back.
This ‘anyway love’ is precisely what we’ve been called to have, be, and give. Get it down pat. The exam is now and every day for the rest of your ever-loving life. Fill in those bubbles darkly and quickly. When time’s up, the pencils will go down.
Instead of this ‘anyway love,’ some dole out citations and rummage through your medicine cabinet. Some are just bouncers; others are bounty hunters.
Hear me well: The debt’s been paid.
You’re free. You’re clear.
Love is a casserole without the condemnation.
I used to think being like Christ meant acting perfect, but I’ve since been charmed to know him as an underage, rogue preacher in the temple when he should have been at home.
I used to think being like Christ meant biting my tongue, being agreeable, and keeping the peace, but it charms me, too, to remember how he flipped the tables sometimes and raged against religion that would have us do anything but come closer to God.
I used to think being like Christ meant a one-piece, G-rated, PDA-free life, but it charms me to remember how human he was: a bread-breaking, wine-drinking man who was wild about his friends and mad with love for the ones he’d save over himself.
I’m not saying accountability is overrated, but some of us have lost our life ledgers to strong-armed robbers, and the wrong people are keeping our books.
I used to think I had to feel guilty to be good with God, but now I think I had him confused with someone else.
I love these thoughts by Sarah Bessey on the subject of changing our minds and our hearts along our path toward God: “God isn’t threatened by our questions or our anger, our grief or our perplexed wonderings. I believe that the Spirit welcomes them—in fact, leads among them and in them. We ask because we want to know, because it matters to us, and so I believe it matters to God. And sometimes the answers are far wider and more welcoming than we ever imagined; other times the answer is to wait in the question, and sometimes the answer is another question altogether.”
Here’s to good questions—and an everlasting pursuit of goodness and mercy for each other and even for ourselves.
Sarah Bessey’s Out of Sorts is out now. Run to find your copy here.
Find more of Deidre Price’s ‘rogue homilies’ here.by