simplify

I’m at a loss, today.  I want to write to tell you about all of the stirrings in my conflicted soul but I can’t seem to find the vehicle to carry the ideas.  So, I’m wondering if it’s possible to park the vehicle and walk – just me and my ideas in shoe-leather.

I’m stuck in the cycle of trying to simplify my faith and its expression, but the process keeps leading to complexity.

I’ve been trying to find simple ways to live the way Jesus wants me to live.  That alone is difficult.  Have you ever tried to summarize the directives of Jesus?  The most common way is to go to the two commandments Jesus cited when he was asked which were most important:

1.  Love the Lord, your God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

2.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

We know these statements carry the essence of our faith.  The issue is not accepting that idea, it’s applying these things to our lives.

We’re given a check list with only two items which can ensure we’re on the right track in life, and I’m still stymied.  Living these things out is more complicated than it seems.  You can walk into any Christian bookstore and tell by the thousands of books published to help us with this, that we’re having a difficult time applying the basics.

I’m inspired to put myself into the fray, serving and helping, and engaging people in their lives, but that’s a complex business.  Faced with that complexity, I recoil and become inspired to simplify and just love Jesus and seek him with the fervency he deserves, but as I attempt that, I’m confronted by Jesus himself, the most beautiful and most complex of characters, challenging me into utter discomfort.

Loving and seeking Jesus compels me to engage in the world with love and service, refusing to allow me to become inactive.  Engaging the lives around me subjects me to humiliation and complexity that I can’t navigate, filling me with a strong desire to just quit, wondering if anything I believe is real.  This cycle is a killer.

I’m certain that to break the cycle, I have to lean more on Jesus, and lower my expectations – not of what he can do, but what I must do.

My awareness of global issues and the complexity of human relationships overwhelms my thoughts.  I can’t fix these things, and that – especially as a male – is so frustrating.

Recently, I’ve been confronted by good but challenging ideas about Iraq, poverty, AIDS, fair trade, clean water needs, child abuse, marital discord, disease and death, finances, loneliness, being human, and the right ways to live a Christian life.

Let me say for the record:  my opinions on these things are fairly worthless.  I can’t adequately address or fix one example, much less the worldwide affliction.

What can I do?  Is it too cliche to just respond with:  Love?  I can grieve with the brokenness of everything, and love.  I can love Jesus – not very well, but some – and I can love others, even if that just means I grieve with them or dance with them.

Is it possible that anything more is a bonus, and to expect it is to expect what comes only from divine intervention?  Is it acceptable to look at anything else as truly miraculous?

If so, then I want to  be passionate about Jesus, and expect him to do the rest – the miraculous.  I haven’t been able to generate one good miracle that I can recall.  Just loving anyone or anything is difficulty enough to fill most days.

I want to say things like “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry” more often.  I want to speak out only when I’m compelled and offer advice only when it’s invited, apologizing as I do so for the chance I may not say it well, and it may be wrong even if said best.

I want to love, and I may be able to pull that off.  Maybe.  If I can do it without arrogancy, I’d even like to love well.  That will take practice and sacrifice, but I’ll try to keep my expecations in check.

2 thoughts on “simplify”

  1. I think your premise is flawed. The world is not broken, it is perfect. Exactly the way it is. It looks ugly, but only from down here. From heaven, everything looks beautiful. This is not nihilism but rather a philosophy giving purpose to pain.

    Jesus said we should be like lilies, unworried about tomorrow, much less Iraq. If the president someday plucks us from our field and takes us to a war-torn region then we need to be the best, most beautiful lilies we can, and even then we might not be able to change anything. And if we remain in our fields? We should still try to be the best, most beautiful lilies we can be. That’s all. Tomorrow can take care of itself.

    Grow where you’re planted, God is in control.

  2. In one of my recent posts you left a comment that started this way:

    “Dude! In my not-so-humble opinion, witnessing for Jesus is more about regular conversations, relationships, serving others, and being engaged in life than anything else.”

    As I read through this entry, I found myself thinking that you are getting away from “conversations, relationships and serving” and trying to make Jesus something he doesn’t have to be.

    Maybe we all just need to get out of God’s way? Anyway, thanks for your honesty and for being willing to share your struggle.

    God Bless

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