Self doubt is the blossom of wisdom, self assurance its rot. Socrates purportedly said the only true wisdom is that one knows nothing. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity saith the teacher. Jeremiah admonished the haughty, “do not let the wise boast in their wisdom.” Paul added, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” “Let go and let God” replies the 12th stepper.
I happened on the blog today of Kathy Baldock that husked the kernel this way:
My know-it-all attitude was already being confronted by having my Christian marriage ending over fidelity+ issues and I was open to considering that maybe I did not have all the answers, maybe I did not understand as much as I thought. I was in that scary place of failure and being unsure. I was ripe for change.
To stretch in any area of growth and to shed the comfort of assurance is unsettling and intimidating. My comfort was broken just enough to allow challenge to some of my core beliefs about several things. So, for me, it was crisis that opened me more to God’s Spirit. My own voice and opinions were becoming less loud in me; I was hurt and willing to listen. This was a pivotal point in my own faith walk. I moved out of the known and into the scary.
Kathy, a straight ally who blogs at Canyonwalker Connections, comes from an Evangelical background, and she confesses that she once bashed the gay community, “I felt compelled to tell ‘the truth in love’ and did so quite a few times.” [a favorite catch-phrase of self assured gay bashers]
But, in her own vulnerability, as she encountered ambiguity in her own life, her ingrained assumptions proved empty when she stumbled upon another hurting human on the dusty hiking paths of the nearby canyons. After more than a year of a developing trust, her friend confided,
“I am the absolute lowest on the totem pole. I am a Native American. I am a woman, and I am a lesbian. Not even God loves me.
Perhaps a self-assured person would not have heard the pain in this lament, but Kathy’s own wounds allowed her to listen and to grow:
I was growing in my own relationship with God; it was less about rules and more about grace and mercy. Grace and mercy on me from Him. It flowed outward to those around me. I had to understand it before I could extend it. I often say, you cannot export what you do not have. I can now see that the way believers treat the needy, the less powerful and those on the edge says more about their own relationship with God than just about any other indicator. When I see grace come out of a person, that is what is in their reservoir. When I see anger and intolerance come out, then unresolved pain is in their reservoir. I was personally going through massive, miraculous, marvelous healing and grace was filling the newly available places in me. Grace was filling my reservoirs and it was coming out.
“Not even God loves me,” said the woman hiking the canyons.
Kathy knew scripture; she knew the oft-quoted clobber passages, but their message of condemnation seemed dry as the canyon trail. It was time for some good news. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, sang the Psalmist. To her hurting friend, Kathy became a wounded healer. To the gay and lesbian community, Kathy became a grace-filled, evangelist of good news. To the “hate the sin but love the sinner” church community, Kathy issued a challenge.
I made up my own story about gay and trans people according to my truth about them. Are you doing that? When you humbly get outside your own understanding and story and engage another person that is nothing like you, it can be challenging and scary. What if you are wrong about them?
Equality for the GLBT community is coming and we, as Christians, both straight and GLBT, have a great opportunity in this to grow in grace and love as we challenge our judgments and fear. We can either do this the world-way of yelling and polarizing or the Jesus-way of engaging with hospitality. Up until now, the church has been very guilty of conducting ourselves in the world-way. We are not looking very Jesus-like to those outside the church.
What do you know for sure?