Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wading Through The Waters

I am still wading through the waters of learning to think for myself. Some days it feels like I am wearing hip waders full of water while I slog through a waist high stream. But I am learning to delve deep and find out how I feel about things. Even when it might make me look stupid and ill informed. For so many years (well nearly all 42 of them so far)I took the temperature of the crowd around me and tried to figure out what the right thing to think and feel was and followed suit. Well, okay, I could only do that so long before I didn't fit the crowd anymore and I went looking for a new crowd to fit into. Maybe not physically but mentally at least. I was always looking for the winning team. It seemed much easier than stopping long enough to think for myself.

The desire to own my beliefs has been strong for several years now. How DO I see things? I find myself with the freedom to change my mind these days. Instead of having answers that are wrought in steel I have questions that are written on the wind. I'd like to say I am always comfortable with the status quo but that would be lying. That much I know about how I feel and what I think. It's awful darn tempting to go back to the old way of living life. Except it wasn't much living.

That reminds me of a friend whose mom once said to her grandchildren while they were playing dolls on her livingroom floor: "Girls, this is a livingroom. You can't play here. This is a LIVINGroom." I remember sitting in her prissy perfect livingroom and wondering just what kind of living was going on there if children weren't even allowed to play.

Somehow I think that paints a picture of my journey. So scared of what it might mean to really live that I squelch anything that resembles life. So scared of not having the right answer when it comes to things controverial. So scared of not being right. About it all.

For example, for years I equated the word feminism with being bad or wrong. I heard that word and I immediately put up my walls and shut out the person brandishing the feminism sign. Never engaged my brain in the equation. Just blocked out the whole thing. For fear of being wrong or looking stupid. Or being attacked verbally for not supporting the party line. In my head there was this picture of tough broads who didn't need a man in their life. Who didn't want to appear to be feminine in any way. Who would fight for their rights even if it meant stomping on the dignity of men. Then I figured out that feminism, in its original form, was the freedom to be what you were created to be. Instead of having a certain answer about the way it should be, it was more answering the call of YOUR life. Including the call to motherhood and domesticity. Understanding that feminism meant to honour each other in our calling made me much less afraid of the word. I hate how we continue to make enemies of those who could be our pals simply because we are threatened by their playground.

And now I find that creeping into my thinking about just about anything Christian. It tempts me to tiptoe on the outside of the crowd to take the temperature again and skip the thinking for myself and take someone else's word for it. I don't want to be an outsider and yet I struggle so mightily with being inclusive myself. I get jittery when a new kind of 'right thinking' gets touted as the best thing going at the expense of how others might see it differently. I have played leap frog, jumping from one "right thinking" bandwagon to the next throughout my journey.

What I really mean is that I get uncomfortable these days when anyone in any setting has to be right at the expense of the dignity of others seen or unseen. I get most uncomfortable when I am the guilty party. A warning bell goes off in my head as a reminder that being right can never be THE answer to everything. I keep getting this picture in my head of Jesus asking "Do you love?" For so long I thought He was demanding that I have it all figured out. Be ready to have an answer to everything. Ya right.

It makes me want to put down my weapons and learn what it really means to live and love. I don't want to be keeper of right answers anymore. Don't get me wrong it doesn't mean I don't think there are any right answers. Just the older I get the list gets shorter and shorter. I keep dropping long held, fiercely fought answers like ticker tape out the window.

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