Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Progressive Christianity: Respect the Process

Rachel has a short chapter titled 'Dan the Fixer' where she uses an event in her past to illustrate an important point. Let me say here that reading what Rachel had to say about her husband, Dan, was so good. It's clear that they are enjoying a good marriage. May there be many more marriages like theirs.

Dan, being a fixer extraordinaire, bought a fixer upper house with the goal of completely redoing it and then selling it. And, as these things go, the transformation was taking longer than what Rachel was expecting. But her husband knew better.

Dan had it all planned out: demo, repairs, finishing. I had to “respect the process” and hold off on the aesthetics until later. Essentials first. The whole thing reminded me of something my mother used to say during spring cleaning, when we reorganized our closets and pulled all the stuff out from under our beds. “Sometimes it has to get messy before it can be cleaned.”

It's from this that Rachel makes her application.

One of the greatest gifts Dan has ever given me was to respond to my struggle with doubt with the same “respect for the process” that he brought to the flip. It was natural for people to want to fix me on the outside, to quiet or scold me or to warn me to stop asking so many questions. But Dan seemed to understand better than anyone that this was a necessary path on my journey of faith. Through my petulance and insecurity, my tears and my rage, through my longest nights and darkest days, he listened, asked questions, offered his shoulder, and patiently saw me through. I guess he just knew that sometimes it has to get messy before it can be cleaned.

I have never gone through a crisis of faith like Rachel has. I've had my share of times when things got a bit much, but the foundation has always remained sure. To go through a time when you have to re-think everything that you believe is a traumatic experience that I hope that I never have to experience. But there have been those who have had to go through it – like Rachel.

I have to agree with her that to try for the quick fix or to just stuff it is not wise. In fact, really dealing with the questions is a matter of integrity. How can someone develop a real relationship with the Father if there isn't the simple matter of honesty? 'Lord, I'm having a problem understanding things. It’s not making sense.' Rachel was blessed to have someone like Dan who listened and hugged and helped. The church needs to have lots of people like Dan who are not only gentle and caring but also zealous for honest dealings with God instead of settling for a mask that hides what's really going on. There are enough phonies.

1 comment:

pragmaticmystery said...

Yay, comments are enabled!

I'm still loving this series, and especially your graceful treatment of we progressives as brothers and sisters rather than enemies or outsiders. Thank you.
-Eric