You know the moment of confusion that comes right before the acceptance of a new concept. Depending on how pliable you are determines the length of that moment. I am pliable, so my moments tend to be brief. I readily accept a new concept delivered to me by someone who must be smarter than me (everyone). What concepts? Anything big or little.
What I have recently discovered is that moment of confusion is discernment. And he is a friend. He has a big brother called conviction. Conviction is the pesky thing that comes back at you after the initial, and for me too brief moment of confusion disappears to be replaced with the accepted new concept that just happens to be wrong. The accepting of a concept without letting it bounce around your brain a bit, travel down to your heart, and maybe survive the whole grid of your being that determines whether an idea is wise or stupid. Acceptance of a stupid idea invites conviction to return to haunt you like a hair in the drain. Everything seems fine and then one day in the middle of the shower you look down and there it is. A big hairy clog.
It is like being told you are ugly. Everyone has had the experience in one form or another no matter how attractive they are. The moment you hear the words there is the gut response of, No, followed by "they must be right" (acceptance of a bad idea). Eventually conviction swoops in to right the wrong, and you realize that you aren't ugly. Not even close. Then you wonder how you got confused.
This is where I am at with church. Not God, although I have been keeping him at a safe distance because of the clog. The Church that I have been involved with for so many years. Served with conviction(I thought) and the willing giving of my gifts. My art. My life.
The Church. Not the core of Jesus atoning work on the cross and the redemption of all humanity, but the other stuff. Elder boards and committees. Pot lucks and Christian self-help books. The politics. The culture. All of the little pieces that make up the business of church. Pop-church. Each piece I willingly accepted after my brief moment of confusion. The blinking of wisdom before the snuffing. The brief recognition of something amis right before giving into assumingly wise people and institutions. Confusion ignored, acceptance is followed by the seemingly easier conforming. Conforming to the actions, the language, the rules, the bad ideas.
I am not mad. I am embarrassed. Embarrassed that it is conviction that has had to kick me in the ass, hard, to wake me up to truth. That, so often, I didn't listen to his little brother, confusion, in the first place. That conviction heaped ontop of conviction has resulted in a hairy mess.
We are confronted by bad ideas all the time. In small incremental units they appear harmless. But left unchecked they are distructive. Passionate faith to poison koolaid. Maybe it is because we don't have the time to care for our souls and so we allow the spoonfeeding. I don't know. Everything that is touchable and tangible seems to comes first, and the action of being in ministry can be one of those tangible roadblocks to the healing of our souls. Like listening to that new worship CD while driving past a homeless person. It may feel religious, but isn't doing any good.
Not to say that our involvement (Bryan, me and Daniel) in the church hasn't been a true following of God and us acting on our perception of God's will. It is that we didn't notice that somewhere along the way we had changed and the church in which we served hadn't. And the inertia of that change pushed us right off of the ship and into the water. I am looking back at the boat we were bumped from and see that it appears to be sinking. I guess it is better to be in the water and know you are in the water than to be in a sinking ship thinking everything is fine.
So here I am with hair in my drain.
I am presetly armed with vats of draino and rubber gloves. It is icky and disgusting but it needs to be done. It is time to remove the clog.
The task at hand frightens me. Acting on the conviction means that I can't conform anymore. There is a lot of comfort in conformity. It is easier. You don't have to think, you just follow. But finding out what is on the other side of the hairy clog is the right thing to do. Health for my soul lies there. Inspiration for my art lies there. Learning how to love my neighbor lies there. Jesus is there. What I find interesting is that the conformity disgusts me, but I am familiar with it. That makes it comfortable. Doesn't the Holy Spirit work most on the outskirts of comfort?
I know that the Holy Spirit resides somewhere in me. Right now I think he is in my foot. My foot because it is the furthest away from my heart without being apart from me. Any closer and I don't think I could bear it. He is at bay because of the hair in my drain.
At the moment, I'm going thru what you went thru a year ago. I feel like I'm in a constant state of confusion and just accepting what the church or church people say is no longer resolving the confusion. I hope that by now you have the arrived at some conviction. I intend to read through your blog and perhaps your journey can help mine.
So many of my friends are on different stages of this journey. Transition of any kind is painful, but I think this kind of change in a person's life is akin to culture shock. It is life changing. The place that I am at right now is much better than a year ago but the unplugging was very hard and uncertain. I feel that our family as a whole is spiritually healthier for making the change, but it may not appear that way to others because our habits of faith don't walk the line of convention anymore. But I know we aren't alone in this and I think in some ways it is God recalibrating his church from its consumer driven model. My humble opinion only. God is still there past all the layers that we seemed to cover him with.