Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lean Not

Starting with an early ward leadership meeting, a recurring theme at church today was the Old Testament scripture Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

One of the challenges I face more than I'd like in my religious community, and in the larger Christian community, is feeling at odds with some of the voices I hear--voices that insist their points of view, their cultural traditions, their politics, or their interpretations of the gospel are, well, gospel.

While I daily witness amazing acts of human goodness, some of the things I hear coming out of the mouths of some followers of Christ make my heart ache.

Instead of listening to and trying to understand people who are in spiritual or emotional pain or who are at the margins (either in the church or in our society), some openly make assumptions about them, swoop in with religious certainty, and tell them they are to blame or that they are unequivocally wrong for feeling what they feel, being who they are, or thinking what they think.

Instead of loving the ones, some scapegoat them and circle the wagons around the 99s, ostensibly for all of our sakes. But is it really? Or is it about controlling the herd?

Instead of being open to further light when we don't actually know why something is the way it is, or even if it should be the way it is, some fill the vacuum with reasoning that has no real basis, including, sometimes, claiming that it is what God wants (click here for a case in point).

To be clear: I know that I am often wrong about things, both small and large. Even though I am well into my middle age, I am a neophyte when it comes to faith and believing. So I wonder, am I the one who is wrong when my heart aches? And, honestly, if I am, geez, do I want to be a part of it all?

I took a drive after church to untangle some of my thoughts. This kind of wide open view can help with that.

My gradual epiphany over the course of the day (well, really over the course of my life): The passage in Proverbs admonishes us to trust in God. It does not admonish us to lean unto the understanding of other people (their own understanding). In fact, there are scriptures that specifically tell us not to do that. Sometimes people are right. But sometimes they are not. Just because a person in authority says something, or a majority of sincerely faithful people believes something, or people we look up to agree about something, it does not make it so.

For followers of Christ, perhaps the hardest truth of all to discern is truth that contradicts the things that sometimes come out of the mouths of people who are otherwise following Christ.

At least for now, and likely forever, I'm going to keep working at it. With all my heart. An open heart. Which sometimes aches. And is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.


Ann said...

Beautifully said, Margy. Thank you for this.

misssrobin said...

I love that you are being open about sometimes struggling (or even often). There are many things I have struggled with as well. There are many things I still don't know how I feel about. But there are some I am sure of in my heart.

But I try to see the questioning of others for what I hope it is. Honest seeking. Another step in their progression. Not progression to what I think they should be or to thinking like me. Progression toward God and toward truth. Can we both arrive at different truths and both be correct? I don't know, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility.

I think you're absolutely right. We are to lean on God's understanding. But I do believe sometimes we can hear what others share and receive a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that it's true. I don't think that's the same thing as just believing a certain person because we look up to him or her.

There are things I'm sure of. There are things I have no clue about. There are days I'm more sure and days I'm less.

And there are times when I receive truth I didn't previously have that completely changes my perception of something I was sure about.

But for the majority of issues in the church, I really just trust that God is in charge. I think if I need answers or want things to change, I should take it to Him. And then very carefully try to follow the promptings I receive about where to go from there. I believe when I am trying to be obedient and follow the path He has outlined I will be guided aright.

And I believe there are a hundred other ways to go about seeking truth. And there are personality differences that mean the way I seek and receive answers absolutely won't work for someone else. I believe God knows each of us and how we best receive and will keep trying to get through until we learn to recognize how He speaks to us.

But mostly I believe we should all be a whole lot more kind and loving of each other as we each find our way.

I love you and hope you find the answers you're seeking. Thanks for being brave enough to share something a bit scary. I appreciate voices that sing a different tune from the rest of the choir. I like people who make me think and shake things up a bit. As long as it's done with love and sincerity

Linda said...

You are not alone, Margy. Thank you for writing so thoughtfully about such a difficult subject.

Linda said...

You are not alone, Margy. Thank you for writing so thoughtfully about such a difficult subject.

Monica Proulx said...

Loved this! It speaks so articulately to what I am feeling. I really enjoyed the part where you say you are sometimes right, sometimes wrong. I am also often wrong/right, but still need to acknowledge the struggle I have with the urgent insistence of others voices that I snap to the line on some of my thoughts and opinions! And I have to acknowledge that I hear fear in their voices.

In the meantime til I figure it all out, I want to feel like I belong in this community, but my heart often tells me otherwise. I struggle with the "how to" of accepting the diverse and often dogmatic opinions of others (who want to quickly condemn those that are the 1) without being judgmental of those with the difficult opinions myself. A conundrum if I ever experienced one!