I have been working way too many hours over the past month or so, and I have not been able to sit down and type out a blog. This does not mean that I have not been thinking. I clean carpets for money, and while you're cleaning carpets you have tons of time to think (because spraying soapy water and then sucking it up isn't all that hard). Here are a few of the things I have been thinking about.
Nonviolence: I have been debating with myself over the past couple of years whether or not violence is a proper way of responding. I have always struggled with this question because it has never seemed to me that Jesus would respond by fighting back. He said to turn the other cheek.
I have also struggled with the opposite. I didn’t believe that pacifism is the answer either. How could I live with myself if I idly sat and watched another person attack my family or my community? Pacifism as a response does not seem to be the thing Jesus would do.
The problem with my thinking, and the reason that both options do not work for me, is I struggle to see power without force. Often when I would want to be a pacifist my one question was, ‘What if I am being attacked?’-I couldn’t get over this problem. I have been ingrained in my thinking to assume that power must include force.
This is the exact issue that Jesus exposed in his death. Humans tend to want to see weakness when talking about death. We struggle to see giving up life as a sign of strength. We see strength in standing at all costs in preservation; not dying. I believe that Jesus is completely throwing the “strength comes from force” motif right out the window.
Understanding power without force was my key to saying that a nonviolent approach is the best.
Community in the Church: I hate going to church alone. If you have ever had to do this, you know what I mean. It is miserable to sit by yourself and worship. It is not natural. (If I am going alone, often I’ll stay home and just go to the young adult services.) So I have tried to attend church with a couple from the seminary that is a part of the same congregation.
While I was waiting for them to meet me there, I noticed an announcement for the church’s “Connection Point,” the place where you go if you want to get connected in the church. Being a typical mega-church, the leaders understand that the 8,000 members struggle with being connected (and there are many people who just show up on Sunday morning). So they have created the Connection Point to help solve the problem-because nobody likes to go to church alone.
When I saw this announcement, it dawned on me. The church should not have community building as a program of the church, because the church is community. It would be like a band thinking playing music is just something they do when they get together. Just like playing music is central to a band, community is central to a church. We don’t do community, we are community!!!
Seeing ourselves as anything else is to not be ourselves. We do not just meet once a week, we are to live life with each other. We are not to just sing songs together and listen to a preacher, but we are supposed to be intimately connected to one another!! This is what it means to be a church. So many churches do not understand this, and this is why so many people have been turned off to the church.
Marriage: This summer I have been thinking about marriage more than anything else. This is probably because in November I am getting married. I have been engaged since Christmas and the longer I am engaged the more excited I am for the day when it is over.
I was talking with a friend about being engaged, and he made the point that being engaged is hard and I agree (especially long distance engagements). Engagement is a time of building up towards the marriage; it is a temporary state of preparing. Thus, it is a time where you are almost married, you are ready for marriage but you are waiting, and waiting can be hard.
I have been thinking about how everything in my life is now for somebody else; I am no longer alone. When I work, I am working for her. When I play, I am playing with her. When I travel, will be traveling with her. Where I call home, is not just my home but also her home. My life is to be shared with a partner. My life is now our life.
I am excited to have somebody who challenges me, who makes me want to be a better person. I was reading Donald Miller’s book “To Own a Dragon” and he made the point that if it wasn’t for girls, guys would probably never amount to much. This is not because women are nagging or needling all the time, but because we want to make her happy. I want Stephanie to be the happiest most secure person in the world, and it is because of her that I push myself to go harder and longer than I would otherwise.
I have been thinking about how marriage is a beautiful metaphor for God. The oneness that a wedded couple should be pursuing is the same oneness that we find in the Trinity. There is perfect love between the persons, perfect intentions between them, and perfect respect for each other. They are one.
I also like how Paul talks about marriage when he uses marriage to talk about Jesus and the church. The wife follows the husband as the husband gives his life for her. This is the same way that we should follow Jesus, understanding that He gave His life for us. It is all a beautiful relationship.
I have been thinking about the roles that man and woman play within the relationship. I believe that men are the strength in the relationship and women are the support. When these roles are found, the relationship works beautifully and naturally. When these roles are not found there is discontentment. This is not to say that either role is more important or either person can be taken for granted-women need men and men need women. Stephanie needs me to be strong for her, just as much as I need her support. Both need to be present for the marriage to be healthy.
Just over 10 weeks until these thoughts become a reality in my life!
I move into our apartment on August 23, and then classes start the first week of September. I will be living there, alone, until after the wedding. So in the next couple of weeks I will be getting the apartment fixed up and ready to live in.
Thanks for reading what I have been thinking about.