#69: If I’d Been a Blogger in 2005 – Stuff I Wrote Once About Being a Christian

#69: If I’d Been a Blogger in 2005 – Stuff I Wrote Once About Being a Christian

There is a tension between “the Christian life” and “my life,” and it causes me to fear that one day soon I will be discovered.

On the one hand, I am a missionary.

On the other hand, I have seen Cuba Gooding, Jr. naked, have been locked in a mall, have had a panic attack in the middle of Warsaw, have been on a gay sunset cruise, have doubted the very existence of God, read a variety of books and enjoy movies I wouldn’t allow my dad to read or see, and get into cross-cultural scrapes that, after I recover from them, turn into my stories.

But I know I’m not cool. Most of the people at my church back in the US are terribly cool. There is a whole movement of emergent, postmodern, coffeehouse Christians who are cool. I am awkward, enjoy predictable forms of entertainment, like “The Sound of Music” and any movie with Meg Ryan, and occasionally, like to sing cheesy praise songs. The reasons “the Church” makes me cringe aren’t original, and are also terribly predictable. Pat Robertson calling for assassination. Really low quality “worship.” Church singles groups.

And I’m not really mystical. I admire the writing of arrows and story by John Eldridge, but it’s not me. I can only go there with a movie-like soundtrack playing in my mind.

Most of my life is not accompanied by a soundtrack.

I’m not terribly devoted, either. I go through ebbs and flows in my relationship with God. Sometimes I need to write and talk to him a lot. Sometimes I go whole days without thinking much about him. I tend to think about him a lot on trams. I don’t know why – the trams, they are little churches on tracks for me, pulling me closer to God through my sheer anonymity there. Being alone is very important in my relationship with God. Our very private world is one thing. But talking about it, people knowing that we’re together at a given moment, is – difficult.

And I’m also not terribly intellectual. I like listening to Ravi Zacharias because, well, he’s so much smarter than me and “smart” is something I value and have been valued for. I like watching other people be intellectual, whether it be listening to my friend Ray talk about apologetics or watching “The West Wing.” Love watching other people be smarter than me. Go! Go!

Yeah, but it’s not me.

I like watching from the stands, but feel absolutely no compulsion to get into the game, especially when it comes to theology.

These are the niches of Christianity, and I don’t fit into any of them. Not being cool, mystical, devoted, or intellectual, I’m not sure what I am. Lots of people know I’m a Christian. The fact that I’m a missionary has made some folks think I’ve found my niche, which implies I have some things figured out. So I guess that’s it – missionary. But it doesn’t really feel right. It feels like pantyhose, a girdle, and heels. I look fine in the outfit, actually better than my everyday self, but really I’m just more self-conscious.

So perhaps the tension is that the real me, or at least the most comfortable me, sitting here in my recliner in a t-shirt and shorts, in my glasses with no makeup, doesn’t fit in the Christian box. The cool people would say my box is too traditional, based on outdated forms. The mystics would tell me there is no box. The devoted would tell me to work on fitting better into the box, or rather to let God work in me to fit me into the box. Whatever. And the intellectuals – well, they’re smarter than I am, so I don’t know what they’d say.

When people ask me if I think I’ll be a missionary forever, I automatically think, “Oh my, no.” I think that’s because, to me, if feels so very…out of the world, not in it. I’m dangerously good at that from way back.

I do love God. I love Jesus. I believe he’s the thing to “get” in life. I know he loves me. I believe that what we have, see, and do here is a speck in the big picture.

But here I am, striving onward with all of humanity. Having my wallet stolen, watching 60 kids in the Junior Happy Band play accordions on the Chain Bridge in Budapest, never hearing from my family, having secret crushes on the wrong men, emailing retired Jewish science teachers, gay ex-boyfriends, the missions staff at my church, missionary families I work with here, donors, and friends. This is the cacophony of my life that I am trying to figure out how to live holistically.

Oh, and don’t forget the occasional naked celebrity.

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