In a recent post, I mentioned my irritation at all of the voices clamoring at us — telling us what we’re doing wrong, professing that “they” know best what’s right and insinuating we’re doomed to a life of failure and misery unless we heed their words.
Frequently, I hear a nonstop barrage of unsolicited advice from people who believe themselves to be experts about everything. A few days ago I was speaking with someone about a project I was working on and she launched into a list of all the actions I needed to take. Three of the most offending words in a conversation with a fellow adult: “You should do ….”
Life in the Church is filled with similar authoritative voices. Yes, of course, we need the wisdom of teachers and leaders. Yes, undoubtedly, we benefit from a loving community in which we can give and receive instruction to support our growth in faith-filled living. Yet, it’s my observation that people not in positions of authority giving out a lot of so-called tips, tricks and “secrets” intended to promote personal agendas rather than how we can fulfilling God’s plans.
When I am in the midst of a prolonged season of difficult problems, like now, I am prone to reading, listening and watching a variety of people who hold out promises that they say are the keys that will resolve the troubles facing me. Each person has a different idea, of course, and often they conflict with other ideas. The process is usually akin to the hokey-pokey; in the end, I’m left feeling frustrated and exhausted.
By doing this, I put myself in a place where I’m afraid to express my true emotions, speak honestly, or live according to how I’m created, all because I really need God to come through for me and I fear making one wrong move. I move away from a place of being genuinely myself in relationship to God and relate to him as a far off figure that I must appease.
Out of anxiety, I subvert my real self and adopt an ill-fitting PC version. This isn’t about doing whatever I want, whenever I want; the distinction is one of integrity — of being faithful to the unique person God created me to be.
In the end, I become like wax fruit. I might look like the real thing, but I’m fake.
Just as I’m giving up listening to those voices with opinions on the prosaic — telling me what to wear or how to load the dishwasher — I’m turning away from those who suggest they know spiritual secrets and shortcuts. No more hokey-pokeys, no tap dancing.
The life of faith is far simpler than most allow it to be. We can be who we are created to be, relating to God as we are, as we learn more and more about who he really is.