Sometimes I feel like I married the wrong religion. It happens when I sit with two parts of the Bible that seem to contradict. And when church seems fake. And when I think about the parts of Christian history that seem devious. And when God just doesn’t seem real. And when hell seems RIDICULOUSLY cruel.
I imagine it feels like when people ask themselves, “Did I marry the wrong person? Should it be this hard?”
But then I think about the things that I value most in my life. The closer I get to those things, the more often I find myself asking, “Should it be this hard?”
To sustain the things I value most, they all require that I hold them with this tension.
I mean, my friends are incredibly valuable to me, but not a single one is always easy to love. Family is so important, but they definitely don’t always make things easier. I imagine this is the same with marriage. It’s such a beautiful union, but it requires a beautiful and hard, sacred tension.
In Timothy Keller’s book, Meaning of Marriage, he quotes stats that say spouses are by far happier if they have worked through the desire to get divorced and come out the other side still united. They held on through the tension.
Even this blog was conceived because I continuously deal with the questions that tug on me by my Christian faith. And this colorful garden of ideas that I want to share with you continues to grow because it is the ripening fruit of these tough tensions.
I think of the other precious things on this earth. Which of them doesn’t require some tension?
Nature will die if we only honor it for what it can give us.
We know the gift of sexuality must be held with a certain tension. It is so easily perverted, and abused. We can’t just have sex with anyone we want, or disease will spread and people will get hurt. This doesn’t seem right to my body, and instincts, but I must hold it in tension. Because I know it’s right.
Food, work, Facebook, my talents and time, all of them are beautiful things but have pitfalls which I will fall into if I don’t hold each of them carefully in a healthy tension.
It’s almost like everything that is good was made to be held in tension. So why would it be different with our faith?
But you know, I don’t think this means that these things will never feel totally natural, easy, and free. I think it does mean it will only consistently feel free when I keep them properly maintained with the right amount of tension.
And the beauty they bring are worth the tension.
So then I think about the value I give to this Christian faith. I love the rich heritage of saints and scientists from Mother Theresa to Copernicus. The beautiful literary masterpiece that we are a part of in the Jesus story. I love the purpose this faith gives me. The community of friends with a common goal of holiness and love. The ability to lay my burdens, my future, my purpose before God at any time, and trust that he gives me audience, and gives me rest. The adoration that blooms inside me when I see a glimpse of the designer in His INCREDIBLE creation.
And I think of those moments when I sit with him, even if we’re arguing. Those moments when I remember that He knows my heart better than I do. And He know’s all the physics and history and mistakes made in all the world. For all of time. And I’m ok just sitting in the tension, and trusting him in the things that I just don’t yet understand. Like a weaned baby sleeping at a mother’s breast. Or a chick resting under the hens wings. The communion is worth it.
The alternative is the echo of infinite loneliness.
I often wonder if I have married the wrong one. It really could go either way. But when I think that it might be a hard one to follow simply because it is really good, and I look at all the beauty it has brought about in me, I’m willing to hold on longer in this preciously sacred tension.