Sunday, November 14, 2010

One Skin, Many Worlds

One thing I always struggle with is how to live in the same skin in all kinds of situations.

It's really easy to separate the spiritual from the rest of life, and we get lots of encouragement to do that from both the church and our culture.  In church, it's like if you just do this list of things, that's enough.  Just read your Bible, pray, go to church, volunteer, and that's it.  We're not always encouraged to allow those things we know about who God is to transform every area of our life.  It's so much easier not to.

And outside the church, in the regular world, being a spiritual person is just fine, as long as it doesn't impinge on conversations or another person's freedom.  Spirituality is mostly viewed like something that should be a private thing--not really to be talked about or shared with just anyone.

So I probably err on the side of not sharing much at first about that part of my life.  But because it's so central to everything I am and everything I do, that basically means that I do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking at first.  I guess that's normal for me anyway, being an introvert.

Many times that means that people don't ever really get to know me.  But once in a while, I actually make a real friend.  It's usually someone who takes an interest in my life too.  And we get to talking.  Maybe it's some justice issue that we're both passionate about.  Maybe it's how taxing law school and legal work is.  Maybe it's something entirely different.  But in that situation, talking about my spirituality becomes normal.  It's not always comfortable.  Sometimes it feels like a can of worms is being opened, because I never know where people are at and what their experience with God and the church has been in the past.  But as we talk about life and how we approach it (yeah, I think most of my friends have a semi-philosophical bent), without fail I have to talk about my faith and what it means to me. 

What I've learned is that, in this context, it usually doesn't drive people away.  It usually doesn't have any of that hostility or skepticism you'd find if you were talking to a stranger.  It's just a normal part of sharing my heart and my life with the people around me. 

And sometimes it actually means something.  If I'm living my life as a "good" person, sometimes it gives credibility to the message of God.  Sometimes it can begin to undo hostility that's been caused by other people who call themselves Christ-followers who have unintentionally caused harm.  But sometimes it just is.  And most times I never know whether it means something or not.  My prayer is that I'm never one of those Christ-followers who causes another person harm.

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