A New Kind of Discipline

I have this habit, you might even call it a compulsion, of censoring myself. I don't even know the extent to which I do it, I only get glimpses from time to time. Like when I was reading the last post and realizing that I deleted, like, half of it, and then I was sure it would have made more sense if I'd left all those other sentences in.

It's as if I need to create a discipline around "letting it all hang out". However messy or confusing it would be to everyone else, it would certainly allow me to feel less suppressed. So, I'll experiment a bit. . . .

I don't remember feeling as lonely as I feel lately. I've even adopted a new posture--sitting at a table or desk, elbows resting on the surface, and head in my hands. I didn't ever do that, and now I sit like that a lot. It's kind of alienating to feel this muddled up inside about God and faith and what's possible and what I'm willing to do about it. Almost like getting kicked out of a club. And now I don't have a club to join, except maybe the crazy underground-ers. And voices from my past are ringing in my ears, as I understand things now that I couldn't before.

Take my friend, Julianna. She left the Baptist Church for the Episcopalian Church years ago because she was dying to be somewhere where she was allowed to have questions. And ask them out loud. I remember her talking about how hard faith was for her, and how the liturgy grounded her in the sea of her doubts. She felt wrong for a long time that she couldn't take the pat answers, swallow them politely, and never ask again. But at one point she realized that her doubts were actually her gift to the church, just as for some their faith is. Those who bring faith in an unusual way, as in "the gift of faith", lend some stability so the church isn't in a perpetual state of drama and panic, but those who bring doubt and questions prevent the church from becoming complacent, automatic, comfortable and misled. I remember how much she loved the Episcopalians for their tolerance of mystery, for their ability to be with the unknowing and not make it wrong.

Over time, I've felt myself become more and more like Julianna. But unlike her situation, I'm not convinced the solution for me is to change denominations (although I could be wrong). I don't know where I would even go (not to mention that I'm not exactly unattached where I'm at). On one level, I don't want to run away to somewhere where it's easy to be me and have church be made in my image (at least I don't want that every minute of the day).

Whatever the outcome, I know I want to be someone who takes a stand for the church to actually make a difference in the world, for people to associate it with the heart of God and not society's morality police. I just don't want to have to be her right now. Right now I'm scared that my ideas and my questions will upset people too much. I'm afraid I'll lay my heart and soul out there and it won't make a damn difference. And that's all I have to say right now.