“Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing.” Of course the Father knows. But those sparrows still fall. They still hit the concrete and are wounded, broken. Sometimes irreparably so.
When I began writing this blog, I was an 8th grader struggling with depression. There were and are certain voids that I could neither fill nor ignore and so I found myself stuck and in 8th grade I began to write my way into acceptance of the fact that there are certain things I will always wrestle with and transparency is not such a terrible idea after all.
Years later, I realized that my efforts to be transparent in Christian community had only resulted in me exchanging one mask for another. I learned to wear Christian hope as a disguise, especially in my writing, and I fed on the people telling me I was so strong, so spiritual, so in love with God. I wasn’t, but I’d worn that mask for so long I no longer knew how to remove it. It’s said that if you tell yourself something long enough, you begin to believe it, and that was true for me. Until it wasn’t.
It’s amazing how prolonged exposure to something can so thoroughly desensitize a person. When I speak to people who weren’t raised in the church I sometimes realize they may have a more objective view of their faith than I do. “God knowing the sparrows fall is an expression of his intimate care for us, not of his absolute promise to prevent us from falling.” Someone who didn’t grow up in church told me that. And I sat there thinking “oh…” Because I am too quick to spew formulaic solutions and tell people “He sees” without telling them why that matters.
The truth is, suffering is something we’re called to walk inside of. And often I am so busy trying to help people get out of it, that I forget this fact. I forget that Jesus suffered, and his disciples suffered, and finding God inside of their suffering neither negated nor ended their suffering. A writer I like, named Seth, said this: “We learn something about the path to Salvation in Jesus march through the passion. He gave into the pain, faced it, took it in the ribs. And in this, what was his parting shot to his torturers? ‘Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.’” Jesus did not run away from that suffering, he faced it, walked in it, found His father in it, and prayed “forgive them” and that is something I am still learning how to do.
I am quick to make idols out of the things that are supposed to draw me to Christ. I think if I do the right things God will answer all the questions. Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow grow. I hum that tune internally, slowing weaving the practice into a perpetual cycle of idol worship. I turn my God into an idol when I worship the idea of worshiping him and the sense of purity and piety it gives me instead of worshiping God Himself in spirit and truth.
I have a hard time forgiving the people who taught me untrue things about God. I am quick to blame, and slow to hold myself responsible. Lately instead of saying “What I know of God is awful,” I have been trying to say “How can I replace these beliefs built because of tradition, with beliefs built by truth?” I have been learning how to worship God out of the right spirit, not out of a spirit that thinks worship will result in things changing. I am, however, quick to run back to my idolatrous ways. And in Romans one, it talks about me. I have exchanged the truth of God for lies. And when I thought I was wise, strong even, I became a fool, a coward.
What still gives me hope is that inspite of these things I can still repeat to myself “praise Jesus, my story does not end there or here.” Every time I find myself wrapped up in some new form of doubt I find myself whispering, reminding myself, “my story doesn’t end here.” Is that not the essence of the Christian walk? Not that we don’t worship false Gods, or exchange truth for lies, or revel in our false sense of piety, but that our stories do not end in those places and Jesus is still our lover and still eases the scales off our eyes until we can see him again.
Let me walk this journey to a better understanding of my savior. Not looking for ways to get rid of my doubts, my questions, my struggles until I have learned what they have to teach me. Not removing the problems until I have learned better things from them. Forgiving those who hurt me, knowing I have hurt my savior just as much. Singing this anthem daily: “He is not finished with me yet. This journey is not over yet. And day by day, He is making me more like himself even when I don’t see it.”