Grab my hand tight, here we go. Stop texting. Ignore that friend request for two minutes. C’mon, we’re going to jump into a moment last week in class that is still wrestling inside of me like the Hulk Hogan in all of us.
Who: student responding to professor in class
What: comment in class turned rant on soapbox turned moment where silence speaks more than many, many, words
Where: classroom in Wilmore, KY
When: see above, I already told you, pay attention
Why: you’ll see
What started out as a harmless as a dandelion, morphed into a full on double deck soapbox rant in class, and I mean an awkward, “what the H?”, kind of tirade. Though I could turn this post very easily into something on why people waste everyone else’s time with childish things like this but, too much cynicism and bitterness hasn’t proven the test of time, agreed? Admittedly, I suppose some feel that environments like ‘Students, are there any questions or things to discuss based off your readings?” are the proper venues to sneak in their biased agendas like kids sneaking in cokes and Juju-bees into the movies. No big deal right? I will also suppose that the main way I can spot these things 2 miles away is because I have done it in other venues in times past. Lastly, and even more soul-bearing, it takes an insecure person to spot one. Sort of a take on the ol’ “takes one to know one” comeback from 3rd grade. What began as a bit of an overshare of opinion towards a few things here on campus, ripened to something we, you included, need to hear.
“ranty, ranty, rant…huff and puff and blow your house down…agenda, agenda, agenda…tirade, tirade, tirade…(then comes the concluding statement to the whole of it) I mean, that is what being a Christian is all about!”
“You don’t really think that”
“No, you don’t really think that is what it is all about.”
“What do you mean?”
***I am sad to report that the most crucial point of the story is not a word for word transcript. From this point on, it will be more like a pretty accurate but yet not exact screenplay***
“People end their thoughts with that catch phrase all the time – that’s what the church is all about or that’s what God is all about…it is a very cheap and robbing statement. It is not all about THAT, it just isn't, It is about MORE, much more. When you are saying, that’s what Christianity is all about, you don’t really think that, you don’t really mean that. It is about much, much more.”
*cricket chirps, because even he feels awkward enough to want to fill the silence with something of merit*
How many times have we thrown those overused handful of words at the end of a conversational paragraph to try and neatly tie up our point? Here’s what it ends up doing though – making huge things small, and at the same time, making a big mess. Reread that one. Making things small, all while making a big mess. Family, comedy, the church, immigration policy, fashion, restaurants, fitness, technology, driving, organization – anytime we place these things in the blank – that’s what BLANK is all about – we instantly throw it in the dryer on high for 2 hours and shrink it. In all of our passion and conviction, we can at times, actually make the dangerous, tame; the huge, tiny; the deep, shallow; the overflowing, empty. It is in our exaggeration that we can at times, undervalue the very thing we hold precious. Obviously, what I am talking about is even more dangerous for things of the eternal. The Triune God, His Son and His Kingdom can rarely be summed up in thatswhatitisallabout, outside of repeating Jesus’ words of the Greatest Commandment. And to be honest, I’m not even sure of that. I think truth, and specifically the Truth, has layers. It has nooks and crannies that daily thunder inside of us like the skies of a Kentucky spring. You simply can’t wrestle and struggle through things that can be summed up in 6 words.
If something is summed up in just 6 words, somebody somewhere is getting excluded. Someone is being alienated. When a statement is made with this kind of fence put around it, someone is left to only peer in from the “other” side. If THAT is what THAT is all about, then automatically if anyone sees THAT being more like THIS, then they have obviously been seeing it incorrectly the whole time…you following all of THAT? Those six words do more dividing topics apart more than they do sewing topics together.
Last week, this moment, confirmed in me what I am experiencing over and over again since we have been at Asbury. Questions aren’t producing answers anymore, which is more and more okay - they produce great conversations. Conversations aren’t lasting for one meal anymore either, they are as ongoing as dishes in the sink. I think this is the case because many questions don’t have simple, straightforward answers, at least if you want a good answer. That’s too neat, and life is not neat. It is messy, big, complicated, but amazing. In the conversations we have with friends, life gets unraveled, or better painted, life gets untangled so as to be unfurled.
To just to evoke a smirk, Ill cap it off with the classic and hopefully now less used…and that is what thatiswhatitisallabout is all about. Dang that was cheesy, I regret it now…
From Wilmore, with Love.