Perhaps I am writing this as much as for myself as for you, but…
Don’t give up.
There may feel as though there are enough reasons to give up. It may feel as though there are enough frustrations and failures to keep you from trying yet again, but there is hope. In the words of an alternative-ska-rock band, Brave Saint Saturn, “The bravest thing we have is hope.”
Recently, I have been more and more open to the realization that the most transformative spirituality/worldview is one that uses the shadows, mistakes, failures, falls to teach us who we are and who we are intended to be more than sophisticated theology.
Do not get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy a fully rigorous theological dialogue. I enjoy the tension between the need for precision in our language and our inability to sufficiently describe the cosmos around us in its entirety.
I have since had a few musings about transformative spirituality. We have a number of models that we incorporate and promote, some are better than others, but they all seem to fall short. Let me explain.
In ecclesiastical or theological circles/people groups, we often mistake one thing for true transformative spiritual direction. Seminaries, churches, and sometimes our discussions with friends drift towards describing reality. I have often been a part of these spheres where we thought we were being controversial and cutting edge with our piety by our ability to precisely critique religious worldviews and/or terminology. Sometimes I have even chuckled at myself with pride as I thought, “What we are talking about here is so dangerous because it is willing to say what no one else would!” The irony is, talking endlessly about theology or worldview is safe, protected, condescending, and ultimately doing nothing for our personal benefit/evolution of soul.
We often make mistakes of –
Transaction – “I’ll teach you for what you can pay me and that will be good for you.”
Transmission -“I’ll teach you the ‘right’ information in the words taught to me and that will be good for you.”
Translation – “I’ll teach you this ‘right’ information in your vocabulary and that will be good for you.”
But rarely pursue –
Transformation – “Informed by our tradition, let’s talk about the changes we want for ourselves that we can’t do on our own, knowing that in that mutual vulnerability, we can grow together.”
I have come around to the idea that endless discussions of theology and worldview do very little to change us for the better. Before anything, let me reiterate that I have 2.5 degrees in those fields. Countless hours of classes, discussions, and books read have brought me to the point of recognizing that theology and worldview are pointing to something beyond themselves.
Nothing transforms us more than taking a straight look at ourselves, and with honesty and humility, and admitting that we have a telos, a goal, a direction that we are to be heading toward and that we cannot get there alone.
Through all of the mistakes and missteps, through all the failures and disappointments, through all the setbacks and frustrations, it is a brazenly hopeful statement to say, “I’M NOT DONE YET.”
Jesus, the most controversial and inspiring human being in all of human history, cannot be understood apart from his struggle. His identity was revealed in his slow uphill walk that was the culmination and goal of his human finitude and divine purpose.
The same is true for us. We become what we are as we allow those two spheres to meet, our human finitude and our divine purpose. Yet here we are, generation after generation, engaging in transaction, transmission, and translation of information but rarely sprinting headlong into the transformation and awakening of our souls that can only happen where our human finitude is free to meet our divine purpose and calling.
Don’t give up hope. All of this, including our setbacks and frustrations, are our catalysts toward the Omega Point of history, the culmination and restoration of all things. The process isn’t done yet, you’re not done. Trust that it is true.