The lovely and irreverent Kate of ImperfectKate posted on perspective today and I think she has a point so I’m using her post as a jumping-off point. There is some language (it wouldn’t be Kate if there wasn’t) but it’s worth reading. Go read it. Do it now. I’ll wait here.
Now that you’re back, I’ll answer that the way my perspective is shifted and my focus realigned is to have the rug pulled out from under me. For example, I was in the candidacy process for ministry in the ELCA in 2003… and was rejected. Hindsight being 20/20, me doing seminary would have destroyed my marriage. We always ended up far enough away from a seminary that I’d have to reside on campus during the week and that would not be a way to have a marriage, especially a new one. In addition to destroying my marriage, it would have put me in a precarious position because my current Lutheran denomination doesn’t permit the ordination of women and in order for Jon to take a call with them, I would have to leave the ministry.
Another example of shifting perspective/realigning focus is Daniel. Every time I think I’ve got the parenting thing down, he pulls a game changing move which throws things into flux. He was born prematurely, he was hospitalized for 3 weeks last March with an unknown respiratory virus, he had another hospital stay at Thanksgiving, and he was diagnosed with autism in January. The autism diagnosis threw an already precarious situation (developmental delays) into even more flux and I find that I’m parenting by the seat of my pants. I’ve been forced to lean on my church ladies which is hard because while the ladies at Metanoia are seriously awesome, I’ve had people in my life screw me over and it’s a lesson in learning to trust.
Learning to trust God is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. I’m a convert to Christianity and I’ve now hit the point where I’ve been part of the faith longer than I haven’t if that makes any sense. (It’s been 17 years which means it’s been over half my life.) I may have been Christian for a long time but I still have the convert mentality that I have to have solutions to everything and I have to rely on myself. It’s the reason why the Holy Spirit’s 2×4 gets a decent work-out in smacking me in the head — if I could do it myself, I wouldn’t need God and Christ’s death on the Cross would be meaningless. Quoting the answer to the Third Article of the Creed in Luther’s Small Catechism:
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
(For my Catholic readers: think of this as one of the catechisms produced by St. Peter Canisius.)
In other words, I can’t come to God wholly on my own but do so with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables me to work on my trust issues with God and as my trust issues improve, so does my focus and my perspective. Is it perfect? Far from it. Do I have issues with belief? More often than I like to admit. The important thing is that I’m moving forward on my journey through this world to the next and each step I take in faith is a step toward complete faith.