People want their lives and history to be predictable and controllable, and the best way to do that is to try to control and even manipulate the gods. – Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality
A week ago Sunday, I suffered an anxiety attack.
Not the heart pounding fears we experience when we think loved ones might be lost or in danger or dead in the ditch. And not the worried gut that disrupts sleep when lots of change happens in a short period of time. This lurking unease put me on alert for days, sapping my energy and, most troubling, causing the shakes when I got close to the source: the line in the sand.
I should have known it was coming – see 7/22/13 Perfection, Compassion and Self.
For the first forty years of my life, I lived as an atheist – or an agnostic, it’s really the same. Then, in crisis after my first marriage failed, I decided to believe in and listen to God. That decision brought peace, calm and comfort – and an amazing, wonderful, guiding Voice.
A week ago Sunday, I realized that I really hadn’t made the paradigm shift. For the past twenty years, I’d had it both ways. Although I didn’t feel alone anymore, I didn’t really trust God because I wanted control especially in times of fear. And a week ago Sunday, during a Basics and Beginnings class orientation at Bethany Lutheran Church in Waynesboro, there was the line in the sand.
In the past few years, I’ve learned to walk into my fear. I scheduled an appointment with Pastor Tim Bohlmann, who listened, asked questions and then made this comment: “I understand your desire for peace and comfort, but a faith journey has tension.”
I would define suffering very simply as ‘whenever you are not in control.’ – Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality
As a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Flannery O’Connor kept a journal of entries to God – for excerpts see the September 16, 2013 issue of the New Yorker Magazine. The entries are telling for O’Connor’s anxieties, her tension, her suffering. She knew the line in the sand and crossed it. Some years later O’Connor wrote, “…sin is sin… Either one is serious about salvation or one is not.” (Mystery and Manners)
Am I serious about faith?
Can I understand myself as a sinner rather than good as I’ve thought all my life? Can I really humble myself? Can I embrace the tension? Can I make the paradigm shift? Can I cross the line in the sand?