Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Uncritical for the Day

About a year and a half ago, I attended a conference with colleagues from around the country. One of the first speakers opened his talk with an encouragement to suspend our critical natures for just 24 hours. To try not to find something wrong with what we'd hear, to open our minds to the positive reception of information that might actually change us. Just 24 hours. Easy, right?

Now I don't know about my colleagues, but that exhortation has really stuck with me because at some point along my journey, I became a really critical person. I started to see things as half empty, to focus on what I don't have rather than the abundance of what I've been given in my life, to always see more of what's wrong with something that what is right about it. I use to consider myself a pretty positive person and I think at heart I still am. But I fell prey to that Christian subculture that says that being angry about something or always seeing what's wrong about a situation, even concentrating on what's bad about the church is cool. As if being content about what God is doing or even excited about something might label me as shallow and unthinking. Where did that come from?

I've been thinking a lot about the character of God for the past two weeks, since as I maneuver my way through these Ardennes, I'm realizing more and more that a lot of the obstacles in my way are untruths about the narrative of God. Just as I have believed the lie about crying being weakness, I have let my soul turn healthy critical analysis into cynicism, anger and sadness. I have been unable to translate a lot of the truths about God's character from my head into my heart and find myself at a place where I have real trouble believing that God is Good and that He is Trustworthy. Not all the time, mind you. I can objectively look at my life and thank God for the good; the husband he has given me and the beautiful son that makes me laugh harder than anyone I know, but at the end of the day I seem to go to bed sad a lot of the time because when it comes down to it, my heart still doubts His Goodness. And where I doubt goodness, fear seems to replace it.

I don't want to be a cynical or fearful person. I want to see and know the goodness of God no matter how bad the day is. Or the month or year. I want to suspend that wrongly directed criticism for more than 24 hours at a time. I want to be characterized by the hope and joy that being found in Christ brings. I can't yet see the open sky that is so vivid and obvious when you emerge from the forest, but I am starting to feel hope that it's there. Hope that God can truly transform me from fearful and stubborn to trusting and malleable. Hope that when I go to sleep at night, my mind will be resting in the knowledge that God is Good and I have nothing to fear from Him. Hope that all of the truths I know about God will actually be real in my life, rather than this mottled battlefield of half-truths that have entrenched themselves in my soul. I may have to ask God each morning to help me be uncritical for the day, but I'm ok with that because I know He is replacing that cynical piece of me with more of Him.

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