There are segments of time, like recently, when I avoid this blog like the plague. It usually comes right in the middle of my digging into something that is far beyond my comprehension but well within my grasp of study. The result…..a state of discontent.
A state of discontent is an interesting thing. it’s not as small as Rhode Island and seldom as large as Texas. But when I’m there it seems all those around me are perfectly content, not only with their faith, but with life in general and I wonder “how can this be. Am I the only discontented soul on the planet?”
I like persuing hard questions. I like challenging others with hard questions. I enjoy listening and participating in discussions of hard questions. The problem with all that is it leads to a sort of anguish that many people wouldn’t understand – except of course another person of discontent. It’s not a place of the absence of faith – it’s a place of a restless faith. I find myself tossing and turning not able to find comfort or ease. The more I ponder the questions the more I find myself questioning the very faith I’m attempting to shore up. Most people would label that as “doubt” which in most Christian circles is a sign of no faith not growing faith. Consequently I push against the walls of my soul and seek eagerly to understand things that are perhaps beyond the grasp of complete understanding. A mystery, if I may use the term. And quite frankly there are periods on the clock when the whole thing bothers me a lot.
Many years ago, forty-five to be accurate, I decided to join the Story that God had laid out in the Bible. My role in that Story was nothing major, but I chose to be a part of it nonetheless. Like many new believers I was knee deep in learning my role. Taking every small part available and pushing the limits of my little faith to its extreme. As time went on parts of my story became discongruent with the Story. When that happens doubt, questions, anxiety, and of course discontentment begins to adjust the script. Naturally the Story itself doesn’t change, but one’s role does. And that’s what happened, and at times, like now, still happens. As a result, I wonder where I fit in that Story. How can I capture a role that makes sense and ultimately makes a difference? Questions I suspect others have but never seem to voice or give away in their demeanor. So you can imagine how lonely that feels.
Like any other hard question that captures my attention this whole issue of being faithfully discontent has as well. There are moments when I feel like I’m getting more at ease with it and coming to understand it not as a liability but actually as an asset. Other times….well you get the idea.
Being in the state of discontent challenges me to look at aspects of my faith as just that my faith and not any one elses. It’s not divergent from the Story as much as it is an adaptation of that Story to my life, my growing belief system and my pilgirmage. If pushed to the wall, I’d say I rather like it this way. But there are aspects of it that are uncomfortable and lonely and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But it seems to work, at times, for me.