34. the arc of change – part 1
I was going to title this entry “the turning point,” but I realized that there’s no such thing. Changes in life generally follow an arc, not a point. There may be pivotal points along this arc or a focal point around which the arc circles but the process of change is a continuum, gradually moving from one direction towards another.
I feel like my life has begun to bend, bending towards a more positive direction. See, I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff lately, it’s all been kind of simmering in my mind and finally, some clarity and understanding is emerging.
Put in the simplest terms, I’ve been wrong about a couple of key things and I want to make things right…because being wrong about these things has led me to a pretty dreary place in life. All my blogs lately have been rants of frustration and loneliness and I’m tired of it. I’ve been thinking about how I ended up there and I guess that’s why I haven’t been writing much lately.
Anyway, the first thing I was wrong about was God. I don’t think I ever admitted it even to myself but if I followed the logical progression of my thoughts on God, I would have to admit that I believed that God was working against me – that the opposite of Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”) was in effect. Randall’s translation of that verse read something like, “…plans to harm you and not to prosper you, plans to rob you of hope and your future.” Although I would not admit it (not even to myself), I lived with the assumption that God was working to make my life miserable and every setback, every disapointment served as confirmation of this belief.
I guess I ended up thinking this way because I was taught (or at least this is the thought I took from church which isn’t exactly the same thing) in church that God was this sugardaddy, raining bling from the sky down to his faithful followers whom he loves. I kept waiting for my windfall and when it never came I slowly (the arc, remember?) came to the conclusion that God had no blessings for me and therefore God didn’t love me and was working against me. Actually, I never really believed that God didn’t love me, it was more like I believed that out of all God’s children, I just wasn’t one of the favored ones – I had to settle for leftovers and hand-me-downs – I identified with the faithful son and his frustrations more than the prodigal one.
So a couple weeks ago, it finally hits me. The understanding that I had of God was not the God that’s described in the Bible (unfortunately lots of churches have that same problem but I’ll save that for another time – see _Searching For God Knows What_ by Donald Miller). At this point I figured I only had two choices. Either my view of God was wrong or the Bible was wrong. With the weight of history and divinity against me, I folded.
But this is only the beginning of the arc. On the other side of the curve is a thriving, vibrant faith that fills my life with joy and light. On this side of the arc is a lot of chaos and uncertainty. I realize that I’ve been building a warped view of God – the model doesn’t work and I’ve got to start dismantling it, finding the good bits, discarding the bad. It’s going to be a lot of work but I’m betting that God wants to be known even more than I want to know him. “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:10) God will help me build an understanding that confirms to his reality. In contrast, my screwed up version of God took YEARS to develop because it was contrary to what God wanted me to believe.
Well, so ends part one. I was going to try to fit everything into one entry but this is WAY too long already. Stay tuned for part two – there’s lots more Randall-was-oh-so-wrong still to come.