Last week reminded me of two other hard weeks I've lived since embarking on an authentic journey of spiritual self-assessment. Earlier in the week, I posted an entry to this blog that I then removed as I thought better of it. I then attempted to make peace with the awkward event inside my soul by myself (it's another one of those "outings" where who I am is discovered and then seen as suspect, and someone I consider a friend feels the need to warn others about me...). Instead, I found myself waking up at odd hours of the night defending myself to the phantoms in my dark room.
I have this bad habit that comes from my ENFP Myers-Briggs temperament. I really believe that if I could have two hours of your time and goodwill, I could win you back to my side.
The odd thing is... when I'm seen as dangerous (after I feel like throwing up) I usually want to laugh. I've spent more time bending over backwards to protect the reputations of the religious conservative and fundamentalist in places where they are criticized than the conservatives who find me dangerous. I know their rhetoric and theology, I understand their values and passions, I admire and protect their intentions. It's almost laughable to me that anyone would imagine that I'd be a threat in any of of their communities since I have been one of them and protect them when they are misunderstood.
But if I know all that, I also know (when I'm alone in the night with the phantoms) that all that cache of understanding and empathy goes out the window when I bring critique to the theology I used to believe.
And you know what?
This week I realized I even understand that feeling and don't want to be angry about it.
I remember shaking and sweating as I opened a book about Jesus written half by a Jesus Seminar member and the other half by an Anglican. What was I, the conservative, spirit-filled, evangelical afraid of?
It was this... this very experience of being rejected, misunderstood, and ejected from community; it was the unsettling discovery that Christian theology was perhaps wider, more diverse and more creative than I'd believed before. It was... fear of the unknown.
This week, though, in the midst of that soul-swooping experience of spiritual vertigo, some of my friends helped me back up onto my feet. A couple of them found me by email and sent virtual hugs. One sat across from me at a lunch table and let me pour it all out while she nodded so sympathetically, I teared up. Another stood up for me and with me.
I'm humbled. I'm touched. I'm... just glad, to have friends.
Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said to leap for joy when you are persecuted. I'm leaping today for joy because some of my friends reached out to me while I felt the heat of criticism and suspicion.
All this to say: Thanks. You know who you are.