Lacking Certainty

I like to be sure about things. In most ways I’m not a control freak (though I absolutely used to be), but in this way I still very much am. I like to be certain of the outcome before I do something major… like ask out a friend. The flowers I sent the other day met, according to my inside source, with a mixed reaction. They were viewed as sweet, but also a little odd and possibly kind of creepy. This isn’t the reaction that I expected, and to make matters worse I had a wonderful conversation with the young lady in question that very evening (though flowers were never mentioned). This conversation made me want to pursue her even more, but at the moment the only thing that I’m even remotely confident of is that she is completely oblivious to my interest.

This does not jive (yes, I just used the word jive) well with my need for certainty. I want to know how things are going to turn out, not guess. Of course, this desire isn’t limited to my romantic endeavors. I want to know many things. This has been a consistent struggle between myself and God. When he asks me to do something my first question is always ‘why?’ I have to know, and I fight him on it like mad until I do know. I’m sure some of you remember the occasion a couple of months ago when God asked me to invite a young woman to lunch. I fought with him about that for days simply because I didn’t understand why. The question ‘why’ is often my obsession. I always want to know why, and it is excruciating for me to be kept in the dark.

Of course, this obsession is often antithetical to actually trusting God in things. The absolute need to know ‘why’ contravenes the willingness to actually trust his wisdom. It is, needless to say (or at least I hope you could come to this conclusion on your own), quite frustrating. God has taken a lot of time to teach me how to trust, and still I am often very bad at it. Instead of simply trusting him and following, I obsess over the why questions and tear them apart. I will play out scenes in my head a thousand different ways trying to understand the whys and predict the outcomes. I’m usually wrong.

I think that I am slowly learning how to obsess less over things. Still, this morning (when I found out about this woman’s reaction to my gift) was particularly bad. I wound up pushing a friend (my source) for information (that she didn’t have in the first place) much harder than the situation warranted, precisely because I wanted to know. I have argued in a number of places that it is fundamentally impossible to know anything about the world that we live in. Knowledge=creative authority, and man does not have creative authority over the world. We interact with the world through our perceptions, and form beliefs based on those perceptions. Then we develop those beliefs into certainties, and act on them (not necessarily in that order). However, at no point in this process do we actually know anything about the world.

Nonetheless, even though I believe that it is fundamentally impossible, I want to know! This has caused me plenty of trouble in the past, and I have no doubt that it will continue to cause me trouble in the future. Nonetheless… while I can work on this issue, as I do often, I can’t simply wave it away until and unless God decides to intervene on my behalf. So, instead I focus on doing my best to be the best person that I can be, and to love others (this woman included) as best I can. I focus on glorifying God as much as I am able, and be his forgiveness, and the forgiveness of others for my failures (as I must do of my friend tomorrow).

I also do my best to do the best. Which means that I am going to stop agonizing over certainty and just ask this woman out. I’m going to try to keep it simple. I’m not going to make a great confession of love or anything. I’m just going to ask her on a date and see what she says. Hopefully it won’t blow up in my face.

Coolness and Respectability

All too often we forget what’s important in the effort to be cool, relevant, respectable… whatever. I finally got to sleep last night and when I woke up this morning I was considering shutting down this brand new, completely anonymous blog and opening up another one because I realized that the name ‘oldmanvirgin’ sounds slightly better than the name ‘oldguyvirgin’.

The entire concept of anonymity is defeated by this desire to be ‘respectable’. Here I am, blogging anonymously on a page that I’m not going to tell anyone about, and I’m worried about what name sounds more respectable. Why? Because we all have the innate need to feel good about ourselves, to feel important, liked, cool, etc. The problem is that in this quest for coolness we inevitably lose track of the things that are important to us.

This could be a relationship with Christ, or it could be a desire to be open and honest, it could be both. Regardless, it is far too easy for us to get distracted by whatever we think it means to be cool or respectable, but ultimately we forget that we don’t get to decide how people see us. What I think is cool, someone else thinks is weird, and what they think is respectable, I think is pretentious. People are going to see me and treat me in whatever way they decide to see me and treat me, and all of my ideas about coolness, respectability, or relevance don’t matter in the least. They simply serve to take my mind away from the things that really matter: honesty, compassion, service, devotion to the glory of God.

The important things always require a lot of attention, and a balance. God loves all people, so much that he sent Christ to satisfy the requirements of his justice. However, he is also perfectly just, so much so that all the love in the world couldn’t allow him to abandon the requirements of justice, thus necessitating the sacrifice of Christ.

I must balance contemplation of his truth, his glory, his perfection, his word, and his world with action taken to spread that glory. If I simply go out and do without learning, listening, and meditating, without taking the necessary time for solitude, contemplation, and communion with the father, then I’ve lost the very essence of what it means to follow Christ. Following requires me to actually follow his lead, rather than simply doing… something. If I don’t know the father, then how can I follow the father?

At the same time, if all I do is lie on my bed, contemplate the father, and study the scriptures, then, again, I am not following Christ. How can I follow him without actually following? To follow requires me to do… something surely. Certainly more than just lay around and feel spiritual.

So, the balance must be maintained between  contemplation and action, just as balance must be maintained in many things in life. However, if the entirety of my focus is on being respectable or cool, in other words if the entirety of my focus is on how others choose to see me, rather than on what I actually am, then I will inevitably lose track of many of the delicate balances that make up the Christian life. I will forget that I must ‘be’ Christian, and that truly being Christian is all too often antithetical to what culture expects of me.

Does this mean that I should reject the church entirely? Reject the notion of religious Christianity and simply seek a spiritual union with God? Of course not, the notion is ludicrous. If I reject the church, then I am rejecting the very body of which I am a part. Could my pinky separate itself from my hand, and say to my hand, “You don’t fill my needs, and thus I will forge my own relationship with the head”? The concept is laughably ridiculous. The church is the body of Christ, and while that body may be ill, this does not mean that it is any less a body. If the body dies, the pinky will die as well, but if the pinky is removed from the body, it will still die, only it will do so all the faster.

Thus, if I cut myself off from the body of Christ, I will die because community is part and parcel with Christianity. I cannot be a loan Christian. It is not simply ‘me and Jesus against the world’, even if I sometimes want to convince myself that it is. So, here too a balance is necessary. I have an individual relationship with the Father, but that individual relationship festers and dies when it is removed from community. Thus, I find myself once again looking at the importance of balance. I must balance my solitude and silent communion with my seeking of community and fellowship with the great body of believers. Thus, all things require balance.

Oh, and I decided to close the profile I opened on fuckbook… well, not close precisely. I couldn’t really figure out how to do that, but I changed my password to something that I’ll never remember. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that was a particularly ridiculous misstep that seemed wise in the throws of sleep deprivation.